The Case of the Disappearing Hen

Once upon a time, on the island of Maui in Hawai`i, there was the story of an escaped “big cat.

Everyone thought it was a black panther or something similar. That mystery was never solved, but I know someone who can verify the existence of such a big cat that was roaming around in his Up Country neighborhood on Maui. In fact, one article states that this same cat was seen “crossing an intersection going into the mountains at 9:11 Maui time on the 6th of January, 2011.” You need to scroll down to the section on Hawaii to read it.

Another story about the Maui cat can be found here.

Now I wonder if the same thing could have happened here on the Big Island of Hawai`i? Listen to my story, and if anyone knows what the predator is, please let me know.

Over the past few years, I’ve had several of my chickens either die, or be pecked to death by other hens in the coop in the traditional “pecking order” fashion.

Finally, I was down to two hens that still managed to give me eggs occasionally. When I went out to feed them one night, I took the picture above.

The next morning, there was only one hen in the coop. I searched all over for her, but found nothing. There is no way she could have gotten out. The other hen was not doing very well, scrunched down and barely moving.

I wondered if there had been cannibalism going on, but I honestly don’t know how one hen could have eaten up another whole hen over night! Each day I searched again, hoping I had overlooked a spot where the other hen could be.

The front edge of the lid to the nesting box had been chewed up and there were holes, as though something had clawed or gnawed at the soft wood.

I didn’t think much about the size of the holes until a friend came to visit. He said that the holes were too big to be from an ordinary animal. The holes were slanting downward, as if a claw had attacked the wood.

He placed a 3 mm drill bit into several of the holes and it fit them all. It’s has to be a very large animal that caused these holes!

The one hen that is left is badly damaged, as if a huge claw had come down on her back and pulled. The skin and feathers have been ripped open down to the bone.

After a week, she is beginning to move around a little more. I keep thinking she might die anytime, but she keeps eating, drinking her water, and clucking at me.

The scenario we have put together goes something like this…

The animal was strong enough to stick a nose under the lid of the nesting box and grab the hen that was there, take it away, and eat it in private. This animal must have come back later, tried to reach in to get the other hen, but she got away somehow. Because the hen wasn’t able to get back up into the nesting box, the animal couldn’t get to her, and hasn’t come back.

Does anyone know of an animal that might be roaming around, or anything that could do this sort of damage? I keep thinking of a bobcat or lynx, or maybe even an owl. If a cat, it would have to be a pet that had gotten away from its owner. We don’t have “big cats” running around on the Big Island….or do we?

A hui hou!

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