Why do Red Tail Hawks leave prey uneaten?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by yomama, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. yomama

    yomama Overrun With Chickens

    Throughout the summer, and fall now, I ( and my neighbors) have had a alot of Red Tail Hawk attacks. We have at least 5 in our area. I saw them circling together over my area during the early summer. ( I believe it is a pair with growing young.) Anyway, out of the chickens I have lost, 4 in all, they have had the same damage done to them. All of them have all the feathers and meat stripped from their throat, right down to the trachea. The chest feathers on some have been scratched off too. I thought I was dealing with another predator, like a racoon, or mink, which we do have, had I not caught a hawk in the act. My question is, why does the hawk only eat the neck, and leave the rest of the chicken untouched? Do they leave it and come back for more? I've tried researching this but have not come up with anything. The last chicken I found dead only had two holes on her neck, but I think the attack was interupted, because my daughters went down there, and when I found the chicken, she was still warm.
    Thanks for any replies!

    ETA: I changed the title of my thread to hopefully get answers for that question specifically.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011
  2. aprophet

    aprophet Chillin' With My Peeps

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  3. moodlymoo

    moodlymoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ive been wondering what to do also. I interrupted one today trying to get my girls but thankfully I forgot to let them back out after a dog potty run. This is the 2nd time now and it always flies off in the same direction and it looks to be the same hawk. Im going to try cd's in the morning and hope that works.
     
  4. yomama

    yomama Overrun With Chickens

    Thanks for the info. I actually have my yard covered in netting, and am in the process of stringing wire back and forth, since the leaves are a pain in the butt to take off. 3 of the chickens I lost were before I put up the netting, and the 4'th was when I foolishly let my ladies out with some of the cover being compromised. I've kind of accepted the fact that the hawks are going to be around. I'm just curious as to why they leave the chicken with just the neck eaten?
     
  5. yomama

    yomama Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:I tried the cds. Had them ALL over, making sure to position them just so that the sun was hitting them through out the day. Only seemed to work for a little while. [​IMG] I hope it works for you, though.
     
  6. moodlymoo

    moodlymoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I tried the cds. Had them ALL over, making sure to position them just so that the sun was hitting them through out the day. Only seemed to work for a little while. [​IMG] I hope it works for you, though.

    It wont, we hardly have sun in our backyard due to the huge ancient oak trees in the yard. I read on a different thread to encourage crows and jays in your yard and it will help so Im getting a couple suet blocks tomorrow and will have my hubby stop chasing the crows from our yard. It sucks cause Im scared to let my girls out in the morning now
     
  7. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm glad the FWS does offer a remedy for persistent predators. But, one thing I noticed on the form is that you have to prove that you did everything possible to prevent the predator from making attacks. If you tell them that you let your chickens free range outside a covered run, they may not give you the permit to take down the hawks. They may say that your losses are due to the risk of free ranging. Just an FYI.
     
  8. yomama

    yomama Overrun With Chickens

    I really appreciate everyone who has posted on the helpful advice about how to deter or rid myself of hawks. However, I'm not asking about that. I am just curious as to why Red Tail Hawks leave their prey uneaten, with just the neck stripped clean. Does anyone have any clues about that? [​IMG]
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    They typically start eating a larger prey item as you noted. When they are full, they typically leave prey item for higher and safer perch. They will return so longer as item not taken by another predator.
     
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Red tailed hawks weigh, on average, around 12-15 lbs. They cannot lift the average standard breed chicken into the air to a safe location in which to eat it, so it could be they have been interrupted in their consuming of the chickens. Also, they get most of their hydration from their prey, so I'd say they probably zero in on the area of the easiest and most blood letting.
     

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