As I write this there are tears in my eyes. One of my two beloved young ducks that I have raised from days old is gone. I cannot believe this is happening. Three days ago I had a bantie chicken vanish with no sign of a struggle. The guard dogs were outside at the time, so I thought she was either chased to the bushes across the property or she was captured by something. I spent hours upon hours looking for her, asking close neighbors, but nothing. Tonight I went to close the coop at about 6 and when I did a headcount Lena was missing. I never even consider that the baby count could come up short because they are all still young and they put themselves to bed early and pile up in the corner. They all stick together and go in at the same time. Earlier at about 4 I went outside and saw them and they all came running up to the gate, and I specifically saw Lena and pet her and she looked perfectly fine.
The run is 9 feet high, not covered. It will be covered tomorrow morning when I get home from the night shift, the dogs are inside and there are a few live traps around the coop. If it's a ground predator I hope to have them by morning.
My question is, based on the fact that there has been no commotion outside, no sign of a struggle, and both of these incidents occurred before nightfall, what do you think is the most likely predator?
Have you guys ever lost a bird that you were closely bonded with? I know it sounds dramatic, but I don't see how I can get over this. It was my job to be her protector and I failed.