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Annette

How did this happen?

Just been giving the hens their afternoon corn when I notice a bundle of feathers under an old apple tree. Thought it was one of my elderly hens then realised it had furry legs, I think its a tawny owl.

The weird thing is, the head has been removed   . Now I thought it might have died from natural causes but its a good weight and looks in good condition.

Would a sparrow hawk attack an owl and just remove the head?. The hens area is well fenced as we have lots of foxes and badgers and surely they would have eaten the whole bird?.

Feeling quite perplexed, and sad for the owl of course.
bodger

Most unlikely. My bet would be a member of the stoat family. Have you got any mink where you are?
Annette

Its a really weird one, sure we have stoats and mink although I haven't seen them in the last 20 years but how would they grab an owl. Just to clarify, it was under quite a low apple tree, no nest holes or anything like that.   And why hadn't the pesky crows bothered with it while they were stealing the hen food.

Our barn owl trust friend will be here to check the boxes in the next couple of months, will run it past him.

Its one of those scenarios that you would like an answer to but will always remain a mystery probably  
bodger

I hunted mink with the Border Counties MH and mink take readily to the trees. They are really good climbers and I think that your owl was probably taken from his roost.
Rena

bodger wrote:
I hunted mink with the Border Counties MH and mink take readily to the trees. They are really good climbers and I think that your owl was probably taken from his roost.


Wow I never even thought something like that could happen! Kinda glad mink don't live in our area... .
12Bore

Rena wrote:
bodger wrote:
I hunted mink with the Border Counties MH and mink take readily to the trees. They are really good climbers and I think that your owl was probably taken from his roost.


Wow I never even thought something like that could happen! Kinda glad mink don't live in our area... .

Little buggers live around here
Annette

Wouldn't a mink eat the owl rather than just remove the head?, The bird had no injuries apart from the obvious one!. Pretty sure there will be mink about as we have two streams very close by.

Another odd thing happened in the hens area a couple of months ago. I found a dead pheasant in front of one of the pens that had not been there at locking up time. The entire body of the bird was gone leaving the outstretched wings, head and feet. We thought at the time possibly a sparrow hawk. I have never seen a pheasant in the hen pen.

Strange goings on in our garden at night    
bodger

Mink kill for fun. Possibly killed it and didn't like the taste.
Annette

Think you must be right Bodger . Poor owl, we love seeing them about and we haven't had any barn owls nesting here for 4 years so we rely on hearing the tawnys.
bodger

Try some Fenn traps in wooden tunnels or a mink cage trap, they're fairly easy to catch. We love our owls too.  
Annette

...........and today I found the head!   Nipped clean off.  

We have had another heart stopping moment, finding a badger tangled in the electric (switched off) poultry netting. While wee were wondering how to free him he flipped over backwards, releasing himself. phew!
Rena

Sure sounds like something our weasles would do... Just to do it!!
welshboy

Yep I think definitely something from that mink/stoat/polecat family.
As a kid I remember my father coming upstairs early one morning and leathering my older btothers and me for not feeding the ferrets.
They had bitten through the wire on their run/cage and made a bee line for some 8 week old chickens. Thet had killed 35 by biting their heads off for fun.
parrots2

Peregrines are head taker see it every day at work probly a young one from last year coming through the winter would find a owl a easy target

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