Despite their cuddly appearance, owls are dangerous predators. It is normal for them to live in open areas where they may stalk their prey and catch them. This is especially true if you have a tree or an outbuilding where they can make a nest.
Owls and hawks occupy a solitary place in the hierarchy of poultry predators because of the mystique they exude.
They can’t be stopped as easily as erecting a concrete fence because they aren’t constrained by the earth. They pose a danger to a flock, although they are not the most dangerous. There is a considerably more relentless ground assault from raccoons, foxes, and other four-legged creatures on the coop’s free-for-all buffet. Some people have had their pets killed by owls and hawks.
What Do Owls Eat?
Owls, like other great birds of prey, rely heavily on hunting as their primary source of food. For the most part, small mammals and birds serve as their primary food sources. A wide range of prey is available to owls, including small birds and fish as well as larger animals such as chickens and rabbits, although they are not usually on their menu.
Also, know What do barred owls eat?
How Dangerous Are Owls to Chickens?
An owl is a deadly foe for chickens. Owls of all species are capable of swooping in and snatching a chicken from the sky. In most cases, they will bite the chicken’s head and bring it back to their nest. Two of the most frequent owl species can be found in the United States: the Snowy Owl and the Great Horned Owl. Both of these owl species are among the largest in the world. They have no problem slaughtering the chicken.
Additionally, they eat smaller birds, rats, and snakes, as well as other tiny creatures. When the owls attack the chicken with their sharp talons, they will pierce its flesh. As long as it’s a small chicken, they’ll take it with them. Alternatively, if the chicken is too large, they’ll eat the head and carry it away. They may swoop down, grab the chicken, and fly away in a matter of seconds.
Why Do Owls Bite the Heads off Chickens?
The sight of a chicken whose head has been bitten off is terrifying. Owls are the most common culprits in this situation. For one thing, a whole chicken is a lot of weight for them to handle. The lipids and proteins included in owls’ brains make them an excellent food source for the birds.
How to Keep Owls and Other Birds of Prey Away From Chickens?
- Keep your birds in the house at night by locking the door and making their return to the coop at dusk. Owls don’t hunt only at night, contrary to popular belief. They will hunt in the evening and in the early hours of the morning when the light is dimmer. So, don’t let your birds out before you’ve had a chance to feed them. Make sure it’s daytime before you open the coop. (This method can also be used to keep predators on the ground at bay).
- Perch sites should be eliminated from within 100 yards of the coop if possible. Considering that most chicken coops are built near or within a house, this can be a challenge. Even if it isn’t perfect, do what you can and move on.
- For birds of prey to perch, it’s best to keep them away from buildings with high windows. However, be aware of this. Some states consider barn owls an endangered species. They don’t usually prey on chickens, so it’s best to let them roost in barns and other enclosed spaces.
- Consider the size of your chickens when deciding whether or not to let them roam free. The size of a small bantam chicken can be comparable to that of local birds of prey accepted as food. It’s much less likely that you’ll find a chicken breast that’s been prepared in a standard or heavy manner.
- Consider the use of concealment techniques like camouflage. There are some people who don’t like this idea, but there are others who swear by it. Pick chicken breeds that will mix in with their surroundings. A White Leghorn, for example, has a lot of white feathers, making it easier to spot. When it comes to birds of prey, my sole confirmed loss was the White Leghorn. I ordered Brown Leghorns for my next batch of chicks and haven’t had a loss of a bird of prey in years.
- Allow for plenty of places to hide. Avoid removing hiding places for your chickens while removing high-up perch locations. When your hens are allowed to free range, it is imperative that you plant shrubs and provide them with access to areas beneath decks and overhangs. Smart chickens quickly learn to hide if they sense danger is approaching.
- Despite their year-round predatory nature, hawks and owls make annual migrations in both the spring and fall. Backyards and farms along the migratory route may see a spike in predator activity at these times. During these times, be extra vigilant, and think about employing many forms of protection to ensure that you’ve covered all your bases. Keep your birds indoors for a few days if necessary to give the danger a chance to pass.
What Other Predators Do You Need to Be Aware Of?
Different countries and locations have their own unique predators. Depending on where you reside, it’s difficult to say what you need to be aware of.
Your flock should be safe from the majority of dangers if you take all the required precautions to keep it that way. Preventative measures are limited to this.
This list includes some of the most frequent chicken-killing predators. To begin, see if any of the following are common rovers in your area:
Chickens can be killed by dogs who haven’t been trained. If a neighboring dog represents a threat to your flock, you should be aware of this.
Throughout the United States, Canada, Central America, and other regions of the world, coyotes can be found roaming free. At night, they feed on animals by lurking in the shadows.
Keep your guard up if you’re aware of any in your region; they’re known to be fond of chickens.