What could have happened here?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by katelk, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN
    I caught a hawk attacking a hen in my yard today. I chased it off and she is okay.
    However, one of my roosters (a cochin silkie cross) had all his tail feathers pulled out.
    What is odd is that the hen who was being attacked was quite a way off from where I found a pile of his feathers. I found his feathers near the coop where I would never expect to be a convenient area for a hawk to swoop in. The hen was where he clearly could have cleanly swooped in after her.
    Could all the missing tail feathers indicate that he tried to defend the flock? Why would he just be missing his tail if he tried fighting? Also, he IS a fighter. He will try to fight even me. He is super protective. I am just trying to piece together what happened before I got there.
    Thanks!
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    My roosters generally will not take on a hawk until one year of age and that is usually only from cover where hawk is unlikely to get at rooster's feathers. Tail feather loss during day most likely due to a canid such as fox, coyote or dog. Having two types of predators visit within a short time interval is not unusual.

    Man-fighting is not a predictor of willingness to take on a predator with mature roosters.
     
  3. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN

    I cannot imagine that there was another predator that took out his tail feathers. Our chicken yard is very secure except from aerial attack. We have never (knock on wood) experienced any attack of any kind prior to this hawk. This attack was around 10am and I am home all day and was able to intervene when I heard the commotion. His tail feathers were intact prior to this. He is also almost 2 years old and will not only attack me, but also my large dogs if they come into the yard, even though they show no interest in any of the birds. All of my dogs had been indoors all morning prior to this by the way lol.
    I am just curious how this happened since his whole tail is gone, but he was not bloody or plucked in any other way at all. It seems crazy! Maybe he attacked with his bum :p
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have seen as you described many times before where tail is lost in a single swipe. Unless your yard is an outright cage it is far from ground predator proof which means you simply have not been visited yet. Hawk could have caused damage but that means rooster was running from it which is probable if rooster did not come out to aid hen. Rooster attacking dogs is not smart as will eventually come up a dog that will not tolerate such nonsense and be done in. No matter how large rooster is he is still setting stage for scrawny little Mr. Fox coming in and taking his head off and trying to pack carcass over fence.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’ve had one similar experience that I haven’t figured out what happened. Last winter when he was molting and his tail feathers had just started growing back something cut off the tail feathers as if they had used a knife. There was no other damage to him of any others. I keep them inside electric netting and have not had any problems with ground predators since I started using the electric netting, about two and a half years. During that span I lost one to an owl when I was late locking them up for the night. That’s been my only loss.

    It probably happened during the day from when I noticed. The only thing I can think of that might have caused that would be an aerial predator, probably a hawk. Since it was during the molt and the feather shafts were not removed, those feathers have not grown back. He’s gone through the summer without a full tail.

    In my case they were not pulled out but sheared off. If the shafts were truly pulled out the feathers should grow back.
     

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