Monday, November 15, 2010

What Ate My Chicken?

There is no picture here, because all my pictures are on my other computer.
My other computer is having a breakdown of some sort.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Today it doesn't.
It didn't yesterday either.
It may be ready for the bench or retirement or at least a visit with a "Genius" at the Apple store.
Yes, they call their techs, "Genius".



What does all this have to do with the title?
Nothing.
Nothing at all, except I can't post a photo of a lovely Buff Orpington chicken that is no longer a part of my flock.
She is a part of some animal's digestive system.

I came home from a weekend away and went to check in with the chickens.
Since they were out free ranging, I wasn't alarmed that one of them seemed to be missing.
I went to the coop to see if she might be on the nest.

A pile of feathers between me and the chicken coop caught my eye.
Just feathers.
Another pile, a ways off.
Then another pile in the tall pasture grass.
Finally, a very large pile of feathers.
Not one single, solitary bit of chicken.
Anywhere.

Just feathers.
Oh, and the darned critter left me a 'calling card' right there among the last batch of feathers, where the eating had gone on.

My question:
What predator am I up against?

Here's a list of suspects.
Keep in mind that this happened in the late evening or possibly overnight.

Coyote--although they usually tote their dinner off from the catch sight. They also eat feathers.
Opossum---I've never known of them to eat an entire chicken.
Raccoon---My prime suspect.
Skunk--Not sure if they, with their small jaws, eat an entire chicken.
Grey Fox--possible, but they are much smaller than a Red fox. They only reach 7-12 lbs.
Great Horned Owl--They do de-feather their bird prey, but there wasn't a tree in sight and they prefer not to eat on the ground.
Feral Cat--we have a small feral cat that has been in the neighborhood for at least a year. He only weighs about 8 lbs.

Now for "too much information".
The scat that the animal left behind was about the size of a medium dog and was full of berry seeds, and a small amount of animal fur. The fur could have been from grooming itself, or from a small mammal.

So, I'm asking all you chicken folks out there--what do you think it was that ate my chicken?


9 comments:

  1. Hi Cee Cee,
    Sorry to hear about your Buff Orpington. Those poor chickens are just so defenseless they never stand a chance, do they? I can't answer what may have gotten your girl. Probably a raccoon as you suspect, but who knows. I'm always worried about my girls. I have lost a few in the past.

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  2. Because of the poo filled with berries, my guess would be coyote. That's the caling card they leave around our house.

    I'm sorry for the loss of your beautiful chicken.

    ~Lisa

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  3. Probably a raccoon or a feral dog.

    Just makes me sick to lose my girls.

    I'm so sorry.

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

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  4. So sorry to hear this CeeCee. You may find some info here http://icwdm.org/inspection/livestock.asp Lots of info about different predators and how to identify them from the evidence left behind.

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  5. Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions.
    It looks like Penny's website has narrowed it down considerably.
    Also, that website linked to another website that has scat identification. Very useful, no matter how gross it may be.
    http://www.terrierman.com/scatanswers.htm

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  6. I'm sure you noticed I sent you the outdated page. Here's the new one they keep updated http://icwdm.org/inspection/Livestock.aspx

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  7. What a bummer, CeeCee. I hope whatever ate your chicken never comes back.

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  8. So sorry Cee Cee. It is so disheartening to lose a chicken or any of your animals for that matter. I just hope it doesn't come back anytime soon.
    Amy

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  9. Poor chicken. I would think coyote, but when the coyotes were coming around this summer and eating our neighbor's turkeys, guineas and geese, they typically didn't leave only feathers behind. With the geese and turkeys, they'd eat the breasts and leave the carcasses... (sorry, way too much info) and with the guineas, they'd carry them off whole (we watched a coyote carry a whole guinea off one morning).

    You should try going to this site to help you identify the droppings:
    http://www.icwdm.org/Inspection/Scat.aspx.

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