Friday, April 8, 2016

We lost all of our chickens.

Something killed all of our chickens.  My father-in-law was staying with us this week.  On Wednesday he went out and found one of the chickens dead and decapitated near the coop.  The rest of the birds were gone.  He went into the woods behind the house to look for them, and found nothing.

I went out later to investigate.  There were feathers everywhere.  They were all over inside the coop.  Due to my travel schedule I hadn't been locking the coop at night.  That allowed something to get it.
Outside of the coop I noticed a number of little mounds.  Upon closer inspection I found 4 missing chickens.  Something killed the birds and then took the time to bury them.
The first buried bird I discovered.
It's hard to see, but there are two buried birds here.  The one on the right is only visible because I moved leaves before taking the picture.
Here are three of the birds uncovered.
There was a pile of red feathers nearby, but the Rhode Island Red bird was nowhere to be found.
I didn't closely examine every bird, but it looks like they were bitten in their necks and shaken.  They had puncture wounds on their necks but were otherwise fine.  They weren't eaten or torn open or anything.
I had a total of 8 birds.  One was found uncovered by the coop and 4 more were buried by the coop.  Three were unaccounted for.  After lunch I found two more.  They had been buried elsewhere in the yard. 
This bird had been completely covered.  The picture was taken after I removed mulch.
There was a bird under this pile.  It was well covered.

Here's the bird that was buried under the leaves in the picture above.
I am very puzzled by this situation, and have 3 nagging questions.
  1. I have a fenced in yard.  How did the predator get into and out of my yard?
  2. What happened to the 8th chicken? 
  3. Why were the birds buried?  And what kind of predator buries its prey?
I don't know that I'll ever get answers to those questions.  I've been all over the woods with my son and dog and we didn't find any evidence of the last chicken.  If it escaped it didn't stay close.  It was the smallest bird so maybe it got carried away and the other birds were too heavy to take.  Who knows.  All I know is that we are going to take a break from chickens for a little while. 

I have to say though, the yard just isn't the same without them.

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