We had a snowstorm in late March that caused some whiteout conditions during which one duck got separated from the flock. We found her remains next to some of our footprints in the snow from when we had gone looking for her after the storm.
That brought the flock down to four, but that consisted of two males and one female that no longer laid eggs. It was not great flock balance and so we culled.
We were left with one beautiful male and one loud, but laying female.
Now.. When the flock was 5 the ducks free ranged in the yard all day. They had a pattern. First past the shed and through the perennials up around to the bee hive, then back to the coop for a bath before 9am. They'd then work the other side of the house and maybe spend some time in the stream but would reliabily be back at the coop 1hr - 1/2hr before sundown.
Now that we're down to two this isn't the pattern. If I let the ducks range, they head right to the stream and swamp. They'll stay out all day, and maybe if I'm lucky they'll come back at night. Twice now, I've had nights where they didn't come back (I was out checking as late as 1am) then they come back in the morning, so the lady can lay her egg.
I've never had ducks break its habit of coming home at night! This is maddening! We have raccoons, opposums, coyote, foxes and fisher cat!
We have been planning a fence building project, but it was really for a large garden (though the coop would be Connected to the garden.)
Has anyone ever had their flock do anything like this? How do I re-establish the desired behavior? I had them in the coop for two weeks straight then let them out yesterday, only to have them not come back last night.