Earlier this week one of our guinea fowl disappeared, leaving lots of feathers behind, right in our front yard. We believed the guinea was killed and carried away, although we didn't know what animal was to blame. We didn't find a clear feather trail, although it appeared the guinea put up a fight and ran around or was chased in a clearing (not amongst trees), as there was feathers in multiple areas.
And so, I think we have solved this mystery... Although it's not proven yet...
Last night at 9pm we were visited by THREE great horned owls (GHOs). They were ALL AROUND the guinea/chicken area!!! They were hooting back and forth to each other. We could tell there were three because of differences in pitch and location of their calls. One was further away, two were closer. I think two were a mated pair, the other was a neighboring owl. We never got a good look at them, despite the fact that we had a floodlight and were shining it at the trees and through the woods for quite a while. But their calls are unmistakable, they were great horned owls. Previously, we used to see one GHO often about a quarter mile away down the dirt road hunting over the open field near the woodpiles. I guess he/she found a mate and found a source of food (guinea fowl) for their babies.
I've done some research, and it appears many people say GHO have killed their chickens and guineas. The GHO use their strong talons to lift killed prey far heavier than themselves. One person said they were from 20 guineas down to 5 because of GHOs. Here's a link to this info, and it even includes a photo of a GHO someone caught in a live trap.
Here's another link to a GHO killing guineas : http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/987505/
January and early February is mating time for the GHO. The female lays two to three eggs. She will raise only one family each year. Both the male and female incubate the eggs and provide food for the owlets. The eggs hatch in about four weeks. So, this means our GHO family is raising and feeding two to three babies right now.
We have been keeping a very close eye outside these days and nights, and have NOT seen any fox this week whatsoever. I had previously believed the missing guinea was due to a fox, but I've now changed my mind. My money is on the great horned owl family. Sorry, Terry at Moondance Ranch, I know you had said a GHO couldn't carry away a guinea, but I'm thinking maybe it IS possible after all!