Chickens in the Road ForumA A A
February 17, 2013
Hi from Maybelle Farm in Southern Vermont. Well last night an owl flew thru the little door on the chicken house and killed two hens and the rooster. My grandson was here at our house when this happened and he feels so bad. I didn't think an owl would fly thru a little door and its the first time we've ever had an owl kill a chicken. My daughter has 17 chickens at the farm, we have three golden wyandottes and my son who lost the chickens last night did have 14. Has anyone ever had this happen? We are not sure what to do now......keep them shut in for a few days or what/ I would appreciate some suggestions.
February 10, 2009
Oh yes Kathleen, I've heard of that happening before, though it never has to me personally. Pretty much the only owl large enough to kill chickens are the Great Horned Owls, the others are best at hunting mice, voles, moles, chipmunks etc. Some of the really small owls (Saw Whet etc) are so small they're not good for much more than large insects! I've heard of someone who came into the coop one day, and found an owl actually roosting in with their hens!!! Yes, they had a photo of it and I have no reason to think it was photoshopped either.
Anyway, yes, owls will enter a coop. It may be good to keep them totally locked up for a day or three, but after that if you can shut your hens up a little earlier in the evening, and don't open the door till a little later in the morning, that should protect them better since owls usually don't hunt during the brightest part of the day. (usually being the operative word of course) From dusk, through the night and shortly after dawn is their normal limits. Now that this fellow has found the lunch counter though, I'm guessing he'll be back for more and if your coop is dim that might make it easier for him, bright light bothers them but it isn't impossible for them to hunt easy prey during the day (and chickens are pretty darn easy). I hope you can outwit him!
December 14, 2010
I can't feature an owl making more than one kill on chickens in a night. That is more the nature of a mink or weasel. I can see where an owl may take young chicks in multiples but not fully grown birds. Also I doubt that an owl could take a fully grown hen in a fight on the ground. Was an owl seen?
February 10, 2009
I guess it depends on the behaviour of the chickens, not sure but I could see one hen kill, then the rooster going after the owl in protective mode, then the second hen being too close at the wrong moment after the rooster. If not for the rooster, I imagine it would have just been one hen, but I'm not sure of that myself. In such an enclosed space there could have been a bit of a frenzy going on which can change normal predator behaviour sometimes.
Here's the link to the picture of the Owl on the roost.
My only owl experience was with one that was snatching Guinea fowl off of the tree branches where they insisted on roosting instead of coming into the coop at night. I got to see it ONCE, it was infuriating, but still awesome. They fly totally silently like ghost birds and I looked up just in time to see it grab a Guinea and fly off through the trees.
December 14, 2010
Their method of hunting and killing is the stealth attack and a quick kill. I have watched hawks take rodents and even with a mouse they must maintain their hold for several seconds to make the kill complete. Had there been a fight on the ground there would be an awful lot of loose feathers from all four birds. Also the wounds would be talon punctures because that is where the strength is in the owl.
March 8, 2013
Sheepmama, I live in SW Utah. Couple years ago I went to do morning chores which included in opening the large door on coop. Something hit the top screen of the door and I figured it was a chicken. I looked up and was eye to eye with an owl. Freeking me out was an understatement. I opened the door and waited for it to leave. Luck would have it, it killed not one chicken. I have a man door leading to the fenced run area and a small chicken sized door cut in the bottom of the man door that is a foot square. That little door is left open in the summer to aid in circulation in the coop. Late this fall I was again doing chores and saw a buff in the corner where they sometimes lay eggs. Went to look and it was dead. I turned to leave with her and came face to face with an owl again. Ahhhhhhhh,,,,, Not good. Again we managed to get it out and gone. It had an injured foot and ended up in the area with bird netting over it. Called Dept of Nat Res. and they said that if it was a foot injury, just let it go and would be ok and they would not come out to get it. Next night he was in there again, 2 dead one injured. No other occurances. 4 nights ago, another owl inside, no losses but a lot of feathers on floor. We started closing doors after roosting. 2 nights ago, was waiting for a buff to decide if it was going out or staying in. I was just standing there in the coop waiting to close chicken door. All of a sudden the was a very loud TWANG. We had run wire from coop to T posts to hold the bird netting over the larg run. Wet snow took it down this winter and not back up yet. The owl was sitting on the T post directly across from the little open door and had evidently made a dive for the buff that was in the door. We have infrared lites in the coop and was a perfect back light. The owl has been there every night waiting before dusk even. Before the chickens are ready to roost. We have 45 chickens and no all ready at same time.
What really bothers me is we are kidding now and have the first 4 born already but still have 4 more due including 2 pygmies. Really worried about that and not sure how to protect them even though they all have shelters they can get into. Any suggestions.?
March 8, 2013
February 21, 2013
Hi all this is Rachel , Kathleens daughter in-law. Unfortunatly yes it was indeed an owl,a very big one at least 2 times the size of our 10 month old and 4 year hens and rooster ! We have an open topped dog pen that is attached to the side of our hen house where the small opening is , the top was halfway covered w/ boards and the opening to the hen house was 3/4 blocked by a hay bale, barely even wide enough for the chickens . I had no idea owls would take after such a large animal or the whole thing would have been covered and the door shut up, I thought we were safe from fox and other larger predators like fischer cats w/ the pen being connected to the back. We have two small children and don't always get out there to shut it up completely because of all the other things to do in life .It was around 10 at night and I heard what I thought was a fox screaming ! My husband and I shined a light out at the pen and saw something in there, suspecting a fox or fischer cat,boy was he surprised! When he was just feet from the pen the owl flew up ,landed on the top of the fence ,then took off as he got closer ! Inside the fence was one of our almost 4 year old birds, dead . He then went in the house to close up the opening thinking he had just grabbed one and we needed to protect the rest . Once inside he saw that the damage was already done ! The owl had mangled and beheaded our young rooster and one of our young hens as well, there were feathers everywhere. Our rooster is quite calm so I am not convinced that he tried to protect the others, not sure what went on at all in fact because I was unaware the owl was there till I heard the chicken that was outside ! We do have a motion light out there next to the fence ,but the owl must have come in from the back because it did not come on ! I have kept them in since then ,3 days and I think we will do so until we get some roofing to cover the whole pen, because like Cinders above said I am afraid that the owl will return and not in the middle of the night this time and want them to be able to go outside . I am so very sad about this ,I will miss those poor hens and especially hearing my dear Hawk Eye crow ,so distraught about what they went through and if I had known that owls would do that could have been prevented !
October 5, 2010
So sorry for your loss... We have a covering on ours and also good thing cause we have had a fox on top right after we put chickens out. Foxes can climb, so its a good idea to keep them safe from all critters. I need to put hard where cloth all the way around it. I have it going part way up. But I think a mink or weasel can fit in the holes.
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