Duck Killed- Need Help Identifying Predator. Factual description- not too graphic.

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by UrbanFarmerGirl, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. UrbanFarmerGirl

    UrbanFarmerGirl Chirping

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    May 18, 2010
    Western Washington
    Came home from vacation to find a dead and partially eaten duck. He was alive yesterday morning, found dead this afternoon. The rest of the flock was untouched. I am trying to figure out the culprit. Please help so I can protect the others.

    The Details

    The Duck
    A very large male Ancona. The biggest bird I have. It probably weighed 7-8 lbs.

    The Run
    We have our ducks (2) and our chickens (8) on a third of an acre, mostly open grass, but some tall fir trees and shrubs along fence on all sides. It is fenced with a 5 foot tall wooden fence. Within that, there are two smaller runs. The ducks are kept in a 15 x 15 run surrounded by a 4' tall hardware cloth at night. There is a wooden duck coop and a small pond. It is uncovered, and there are several tall fir trees in and around this area. Because we were gone on vacation and have never had issue with predators (live in town, have never seen a raccoon in the area, tree cover made me think birds of prey were unlikely, neighbors had never lost birds) we left the chickens ranging around in the yard and the ducks in their run, with coops open at night. Someone came daily to feed/water/collect eggs, and says he was alive yesterday morning, in his run.

    The Remains/Injuries:
    The Duck had been removed from the run, and was on the complete other side of the property, close to the tall wooden fence. There were downy feathers and a few larger feathers scattered around. Head and neck had been completely eaten. Looked as if the crop was completely gone as well. There were two injuries on the back- I am just guessing at the anatomy here, because it was pretty gruesome. It looked like maybe the liver was gone, and then there was a wound in the area between the wings- but it might have been just a bit torn open, hard to tell. The weirdest thing was it looked like something had chewed on or broken the bill- the bottom and top were facing different ways and the front half of his upper bill was totally missing.

    Tonight everyone is locked up in their coops.... but I don't know if I need to change fencing, add bird netting, change coops.... I am sure my dogs being gone while I was on vacation didn't help with prevention either. We live in a rural and forrested area in Western Washington, but our house and property are in town-- We live a few blocks from a forested park and a river, but there are many houses, paved, streets, all that. Several other neighbors have chickens and never lock them up at night- they are loose in the yard, and have never experienced a loss. We have never seen any animals on our property aside from the neighbor's cat and dog, and some crows and squirrels. There are reports of cougar, bobcat, coyote, raccoon, possum, bird of prey including owls and eagels, etc.- they just tend to be seen at the edge of town.
     

  2. gmendoza

    gmendoza Songster

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    Mar 23, 2010
    Rock Hill,SC
    I would either say its an owl, or buzzards. Here in the south, we have been getting a lot of turkey buzzards eating our chickens up like no tomorrow, but something that can take a big duck like that would be an owl. By the way the bill was, maybe the duck fought back at some point, only to lose badly.
     
  3. UrbanFarmerGirl

    UrbanFarmerGirl Chirping

    128
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    99
    May 18, 2010
    Western Washington
    Thanks for the input. I would assume it would have to be a great horned owl as the other owls aren't much bigger than the duck was. We were thinking of owl or raccoon but if it was a raccoon I thought it would probably have eaten him in the pen- and probably eating the nesting female as well. That's interesting about buzzards - in my experience they eat carrion that has been killed by something else first. Did not realize they could be predators.
     

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