Would a hawk rip the head completely off?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by NicInNC, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. NicInNC

    NicInNC Songster

    Jun 23, 2008
    North Carolina
    I just went out to let my chickens out of the run to free range until bedtime only to discover all my chickens pecking at something. That something was one of my Polish hens. It's head was completely ripped off and it was also completely gutted. There were feathers all over the place. We've lost some to Cooper's Hawks and so has our neighbor (we actually saw the hawk kill them). Can the hawks actually rip the head completely off? I can't find the head anywhere. I've looked in the coop, all over in the run and all throughout the backyard. There is no way it was a dog or anything like that because the run is secure except for the top.

  2. Knock Kneed Hen

    Knock Kneed Hen California Dream'in Chickens

    Feb 15, 2010
    So. Cal.
    Effortlessly. I had aviaries and a hawk ripped the leg off of one of the birds that was hanging on the cage inside. Sorry [​IMG]
  3. NicInNC

    NicInNC Songster

    Jun 23, 2008
    North Carolina
    UGH. I've heard that they'll break the neck, but I never thought they would take the entire head!

    Our run is probably 7 feet high and the majority of it is covered by huge cypress trees. There is an opening at the top of each corner (about a 3 foot opening) where the trees don't cover but I didn't think a hawk would try to come in that small of an opening. I'm going to put some netting on top of the run.
  4. Lbrad7

    Lbrad7 Songster

    May 19, 2010
    Ringgold, GA
    They can take the head off with one snip of that beak. Sorry for your loss, hope you can keep them safe from the hawks, if not you can plan on a lot more scenes like that.
  5. perolane

    perolane Songster

    Jun 20, 2010
    That 3 foot opening is plenty big enough for a hawk to come in. They'll walk through coop doors if accessible.
  6. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    There is also the possibility of anything that can climb--raccoon, weasel, etc.
  7. Malpower

    Malpower Songster

    Jan 12, 2009
    Kentfield, California
    SO sorry about your hen -- that's how I lost one of my first two 4-5 month old hens about a year and a half ago -- a Cooper's Hawk, her head was gone and I found him standing over her -- it looked like he had chased her from under some bushes where she was probably trying to hide back into a small area under redwoods, a sad feather trail -- I finally found the other hen safely hidden behind a bunch of flower pots. It was awful, and we never found the head. [​IMG]

  8. americancowboy

    americancowboy In the Brooder

    Jun 7, 2010
    has to be a weasel. I work on a chicken farm and everytime a chicken dies we find the chicken with the head ripped off and we have seen that dern thing walking around but cant get him. We will besetting up traps very soon.
  9. sounds like a raccoon to me. They definitely rip off heads and also eat the insides. same with possums about the insides but never seen them rip off heads.
  10. mrkpero

    mrkpero Songster

    Sep 26, 2008
    Owls will also take the heads off birds, especially when they are teaching their young to hunt.

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