Can an owl carry off a grown duck?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by fogbubble, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. fogbubble

    fogbubble Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 9, 2009
    Western NC
    I've been losing a bunch of ducks lately - mostly Welsh Harlequins and a few Harlequin/mallard hybrids. All of them were mid-size ducks - not too big or small.

    Usually they just disappear without a trace, but I did find one completely headless one. She was killed at about 4:00 or 4:30 in the afternoon on a damp, grey day. We have 2 good dogs and it's hard for me to believe that a raccoon or mink would attack during the day with them around.

    The frequency of attacks, headless duck, and presence of guard dogs makes me think it's an owl. Plus, we've actually seen barred owls around here recently.

    I've read that owls will eat the heads off prey that's too heavy to fly with. But can they actually carry off a duck so that it just disappears without a trace? I'd sure like to identify the culprit who took my Buttercup.
  2. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    At that time of day, it's more likely a hawk or some other daytime predator. Owls generally won't come out until it's really dark unless they're starving. Do you have foxes and coyotes? Sometimes they can be sneaky and steal a bird right under a guard dog's nose.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  3. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

    Oct 2, 2008
    Hawk or owl....most likely a hawk at that time of day. Sometimes they can carry them off or sometimes they will just take the head. I have lost ducks to both.
  4. fogbubble

    fogbubble Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 9, 2009
    Western NC
    I thought that too, but I have seen them out around here during (cloudy) daylight hours. And most of my ducks have vanished around dusk/early evening.

    Can a barred or great horned owl physically carry off a duck?

    Thanks for the input - I need all the help I can get!
  5. Bleenie

    Bleenie Wyan-DO's

    The only time I have ever had a problem with the Owls around here is at night & the only attacked my Pekins & White Crested Ducks that I used to have, probably because they were easier to see(or my Muscovies are just too quick). They never took off with any but I did have to patch up a lot of heads until I finally sold them all. after I sold them I had no more problems with Owl attacks.

    Where I am at, I have seen Great Horned & Barn Owls most commonly, but I am sure it was a Horned Owl causing the damage. It's not uncommon for them to kill & eat birds as large as geese. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  6. treldib

    treldib Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Southern California
    We constantly have Red Tailed Hawks and Cooper's Hawks eyeing our flock and sometimes at night we hear GHO calls. But we have never had a problem with them.

    I highly doubt an owl (even a GHO) could physically carry off a large duck (Pekin, Rouen, Swedish, etc.). Possibly a smaller breed like a Runner.
  7. Bleenie

    Bleenie Wyan-DO's

    I have never seen an owl carry off a bird but do know that an Owl will eat everything, feather & bones included. They will just pass it or cough it back up later on since they can't digest it all.

    do you have Eagles maybe? We have a pair that nests on our hill and they're the only birds I have seen fly off with a full grown bird. A hawk got one of our OEGB's once but she was a teeny tiny thing. (if i remember right though, MysticalMom's RunnerX, Peanut, was hauled off by a Red Tailed Hawk)
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  8. MysticalMom

    MysticalMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2009
    Quote:Yep. A red tailed hawk. A little thing too. We haven't seen them lately. Seems all these crows we've had around lately have chased them off?
  9. janastasio

    janastasio Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2008
    New Hampshire
    We had an owl this fall/winter. Killed two ducks, a call and an indian runner. We ended up having to cover our pen with aviary netting. It didn't carry off its prey. My daughter caught it in the act on the first one. It was eating the duck in the pen. Both of the birds had wounds on the upper chest and neck. It didn't get to finish its meal either time.
  10. allcrackedup

    allcrackedup Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2010
    we have had owl's carry off medium size kitten's.....

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