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What's eating my birds?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by emilyweck, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. emilyweck

    emilyweck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are locked up in a large fenced area. Fence is 8' tall hardware cloth and buried 12". There is a coop inside the fenced area where most chickens roost at night but my ducks and a couple chickens roost under the coop inside the fenced area. Birds are picked off one Per night and partially eaten left at the kill spot. Last night we put partially eaten duck in live trap. Live trap didn't go off but duck was pulled out and eaten completely except the spine. 4 of my chickens were inside the fenced area under the coop with this critter and were unharmed. It's climbing the fence. We've gone 4 years without any problems and now it's each night. I'm in Oregon so my top thoughts are raccoon, possum? Any thoughts?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    It could be something else but raccoon or fox would be my first guesses.
    A raccoon can climb ANYTHING so an 8' fence is no protection. A fox can jump an 8' fence as well.
    Raccoons tend to keep a low profile this time of year but a fox will be active all winter long.
     
  3. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not sure what the predator is but thinking out loud: Since it's night we can rule out hawks. It sounds like the varmint is pulling the birds from under the coop while the cooped birds are safe? In my experience foxes have always carried the birds away (Unless since it was night he felt very safe? But I've never had a fox eat on site.) Not sure if members of the weasel family would eat that much. I'd probably choose raccoon by default. (Owls wouldn't go under a coop I should think.)
    You don't see any footprints (In this case some clean snow might be helpful as would a night camera.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  4. emilyweck

    emilyweck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with tracks. We had snow last night but then it was freezing rain on top of it so the prints that did show were barely noticeable. Hubby is getting the game cam set up for tonight. I am just surprised that a raccoon would take one at a time and come back and eat half a dead duck rather than kill the chickens right in front of him. But raccoon does seem the most probable.
     
  5. spoikey

    spoikey Out Of The Brooder

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    I would say it's a possum and he's probably living under your coop if it sits close to the ground or some place close by. I had one living in the coop He only killed one rooster that had a gimpy leg. He always hung close or in the coop. The possum was hiding in a dark cubby hole. When I reached in to check for eggs he bit me. Made short work of him. He was small and must have been in there for a couple of days since the rooster was almost completely eaten. They usually don't kill more than they can eat.
     
  6. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm trying to figure out the different predators. Around here opossums generally eat just the head, sometimes a little more than that but I've never heard of any eating an entire bird.
    Both opossums and raccoons are easy to catch in live (Hav-a-heart) traps although I've known of cases where a large raccoon can remove and eat the bait without setting off the trap (If his hind end holds the door down.)
    Will be interesting what they find out.
     
  7. emilyweck

    emilyweck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The duck was eaten over two separate nights. First night the chest and neck were ripped open and eaten but the second night it was licked clean. The first duck that was killed was split open and the head still on.
     
  8. emilyweck

    emilyweck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also, there were tracks in and outside the coop/run. The head portion of the dead duck was detached the second night and some feathers from the head were pulled through the hardware wire so it appears to be more than one critter. One ate from inside and another had arms small enough to reach through 1" hardware wire.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Owl maybe...or coon.
    Curious what the cam will show
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    All evidence reported reads like an owl. To differentiate between owl and raccoon, look at feathers still attached to body and close to where predator actually fed. The owl will leave feathers in that area clean and dry. The raccoon will leave feathers in the same are with a wet slobbery look. Raccoon will bite through a lot of bones leaving what look like shards while the owl will pick bones clean of tissue and some times eat the bones whole. Owl, like a hawk, will cleanly pick muscle away from neck vertebrate while raccoon will often chew right through bone.

    Raccoon will not hesitate to make multiple kills if victims close together. Owl usually will kill only one.


    Surprisingly, you can hear both critters when they are eating a carcass from some distance. Great-horned owl will snap tendons and ligaments as it feeds. Exception for owl breaking bones involves those that are flat like in the breast and back supporting flight muscles of the chicken.
     
    1 person likes this.

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