predatorsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I posted yesterday saying that something had eaten the head/neck off one of my guineas roosting in the hemlock tree. Well, today there were two more missing -- a male and female, two different "colors", and except for a few clumps of feathers -- no trace of them. No blood, no nothing. Just gone.
Most of the replies to my earlier post suggested that the predator was an owl. Can an owl take two at a time? And why don't I hear them putting up a struggle, or the other birds squawking? The tree is not thirty feet from the house. Since mid January, I've lost four guineas. They will not return to the coop anymore. They prefer the trees.
-- TD Matheny (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 25, 2002
TD, if it's missing from a tree I'd think an owl, too. The reason you hear nothing is because predators live or die on a good catch, and a good catch means the prey is dead before they even can blink. They don't mess up the kill very often. They have the advantage of sizing the situation up and then just going in and doing the job. No muss, no fuss and the prey never knows what hit them. You have to admire them at the same time you are furious with them! I don't know about an owl taking two at a time, but owls do hunt in pairs, so it could be you've got Mr and Mrs both hitting the place for dinner. If you listen to Great Horned owls hoot to each other at night they are generally calling back and forth to each other. The female has a longer and deeper call than the male, so you can tell them apart.
If you want to keep those guineas, you'll have to find a way to get them in at night. Even if the owls moved on, next week it would be a 'coon or weasel or what have you. Poultry are short lived if you can't get them in at night. I've just had a go around with my ducks not wanting to go in at night. I sweated it out for three nights and finally convinced them to go back into their box and was lucky not to lose any during the revolt. Good luck with them.
-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (email@example.com), February 25, 2002.
This sounds like what happened to my chickens. They used to roost in the barn but took to roosting in the trees, I think for safety. But they continued to go missing. I knew I had a fox after them in the day because I saw it. But I reciently learned that gray fox can climb trees and tend toward nocternal activities more than red fox. I don't know for a fact if it was a gray fox. I do know we have them around and I do know my chickens went missing at night from trees with no sign. So I either had a chicken rustler, but the dogs never barked. A raccoon would leave a mess, I think. It could have been a martin or fisher, but again I think there would have been a mess and struggle leaving feathers all over the place. More likely it was a gray fox, very quiet, stelthy, and able to take a chicken in a single bite and bound. Super fox, probably able to leap an out building in a single bound too! Check with your local conservation officers to see what you have in your area.
-- Susan in Minnesota (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 25, 2002.
Sorry about your losses, TD. Sounds like you may have more than one kind of predator. They'll return as long as the 'restaurant' is open.
I train my birds to return to the pens at dusk. This works for me for both guineas and chooks and I've never had to chase a bird down. The only time it has to be repeated is if you move the pens or move to a different house: Put them in a pen that has a roof. Have feed always available. After 3 weeks, you can open the pen gate.
-- ~Rogo (email@example.com), February 25, 2002.
New Jersey released guineas in an attempt to reduce deer ticks. Owls got all of them. Took them out of the trees and ate the brains.
-- Darren (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 25, 2002.
Its been my experience that it doesn't occur, even to the best watch dog, to make a racket or repel owls, eagles and hawks when they swoop in to steal small stock. We work so hard to train our dogs not to chase our yard birds, how are they supposed to tell the difference?
I once had a humongous hawk swoop down and snagged my tom cat right in front of me and 3 of the most ferocious farm dogs that ever were. The dogs just had a bewildered look on their faces, like, "How did that chicken do THAT?"
The hawk did finally drop the cat up on the hillside, but he was never quite the same. He was kind of a nervous fella after that.
-- Laura (Ladybugwrangler@hotmail.com), February 27, 2002.
Right now I have some mallards and chickens in a poultry house, and some Muscovy's outside (all year round - they like it better outside). I have never had a probleme with predators yet. I put this up to a pair of owls that hang out in the woodlot near by. They have never bothered the ducks, but they pick up every rabbit that has ever gotten loose. I think they are on nightwatch - there are open fields all around our house, and no predator (fox skunk or other) has made it across this year!
Thank you owls!
-- Chenoa (email@example.com), March 07, 2002.