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What killed my birds?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by hometoroost, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. hometoroost

    hometoroost Hatching

    Jul 24, 2010
    Never posted here before, but have gotten lots of good information from you all.

    Have read many of the predator posts, but I am truly stumped. Went out to my coop this morning and no birds, some feathers scattered around, 'tho. Once I got inside (mind you this is a very secure coop situated on a cement pad, constructed of heavy gauge dog run panels with a net over the top. Inside this enclosure is a small elevated coop/house situated in the center of the enclosure and not near any of the side run panels) I saw several piles of the deep pine shavings that I keep on the floor of the coop. Under these pine shavings were the buried bodies of my birds! One bird was entirely missing, no sign of it or any of its feathers. One carcus had the head/neck chewed off, but the parts were buried next to the body; the third carcus was intact, cut looked like it had had its neck broken. What would kill, then bury the birds -- possibly to come back later?

    Wondering what got them so I can prevent a future occurence when I get new birds ( won't get any until I figure this out as I do NOT want to face this again)



  2. violetsky

    violetsky Songster

    Feb 14, 2011
    Huntsville, Alabama
    For no real good reason I want to say, "skunk".
  3. jbourget

    jbourget Songster

    Apr 4, 2008
    I had this happen to me. but never found out what it was. the space was literally like 2 inches by 1 inch high it had to squeeze through. some kind of weasle, mink...fisher ECT would do it. i also had alot of big rats. but i dont think they did. so i boxed up every tiny little hole and was ok. they come and go i usually loose a few birds dead of winter when the predators are desperate

    good luck
  4. hometoroost

    hometoroost Hatching

    Jul 24, 2010
    Thanks. Whatever it was, had to climb a six foot panel, chew through the netting (about a 6" x 12"" hole) and then kill the birds. I don't know how it would climb out again, 'tho. The door to the pen was securely closed. I have never heard of any of the common predators burying the killed birds. Has anyone out there experienced that before?

  5. mommissan

    mommissan Songster

    Jul 4, 2011
    Ugh.... so sorry for your loss. I think weasel. I had one squeeze through a 1" space in my dog kennel and eat the head off my rabbit. It left the rest buried for later. I cleaned it all up and for many days after, I found its tracks all over the snow looking for the rest of the carcass. Use 1/2" mesh.... everywhere!
  6. hometoroost

    hometoroost Hatching

    Jul 24, 2010
    Will do so in the future. Top mesh was to easy to get through I guess. Because of the cement floor and the heavy gauge panels around the perimiter of the pen, I thought we were safe. Poor Erinestine, Bernice and Eunice! I hope they were asleep and not too aware of what was happening. I am devestated about the loss of my girls.
  7. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Crowing

    Apr 19, 2009
    It's not nearly as common for mink/weasels to bury their prey as it is with rats. Rats are known to "hide" their kills by stuffing them in holes, burying them in loose dirt or bedding, putting them underneath things/in tight corners. Rats are also more likely to carry their prey off to hide it elsewhere. Mink/weasels only really do this if they must to feed a litter. Both rats and mink/weasels mutilate the head and neck of their prey however.

    If your run is constructed of chain link it's far from predator proof. Both weasels and rats can easily slip through chainlink.

  8. Chickiedude

    Chickiedude In the Brooder

    Oct 22, 2011
    Sorry for your loss.

    When we first moved to our house, people down the road had chickens killed in their hen house. Reports that people all over our street were experiencing the same, before we got our chicks we had tea with them so we could find out more. Turns out they went into their hen house to find it covered in feathers and the dead bodied of their mutated hens buried lightly under the soil. It took a few months but they ended up catching two foxes, so everyone assumed it was them. But I've heard it can be other birds or owls, or something? Good luck finding out!
  9. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Cats (bobccat?) will frequently bury excess kills for future consumption. Fox will occassionally do the same.
  10. hometoroost

    hometoroost Hatching

    Jul 24, 2010
    I have seen bobcats down by the creek. Infrequently, but I know they are there. I don't think it was rats, these were all really good size birds and I watched my Buckeye (Ernestine) chase and kill a rat that was in the pen. It would have taken an army of them to kill all three birds in one go.

    My pen isn't made of chain link, and the holes are retangular, about 1/2 wide. I had heavy cloth mesh across the top primarily to keep hawks out and provide some shade. That was how whatever got in, I think as it was pulled away slightly in one corner. I will replace the top with another panel on top of the mesh. But not for a bit. Need to get over this devastation first. Poor Ernie - she was such a comical girl. She licked to jump in my lap and beg for raisons.....

    Thanks all.


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