Ducks head wounds, whats doing it? Slightly graphic photos)

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Kimmyh51, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. Kimmyh51

    Kimmyh51 Songster

    Nov 16, 2015
    hi guys.

    I have had a number of the wild mallards that live here, show up with really nasty abrasions all around the same area of their head lately.

    all of the ducks were wild mallards, none of my domestic ducks have been attacked. Most of the ducks were juvenille females. One was a 2&1/2 year old drake who I found with these head wounds, plus injuries to both his eyes, about 2-3 months ago. He was also sore around his back and abdomen, though no obvious wounds except in the head and eyes. And the last one was a juvenille male. Being wild mallards, all are obviously able to leave my main run and fenced areas, which the domestics cannot. However most dont roam far, if at all.

    After finding him, there was a gap of about 2 months before the others started showing up. But in the last 2 weeks I have had another 5 ducks show up with these wounds. All are in the same place on the head. In the photos I will attach, a young drake I found today, also had feathers gone on his back. However none of the other ducks have had injuries anywhere except their head.

    The shape of the wound on the head, is almost exactly the same around the edges on every duck, it starts around the top back of the head, in almost a shape like the top of a love heart - two curves meeting mid way in the back top of the head - and more damage on the left side of the face, feathers missing, skin exposed, and bleeding.

    I have one theory on the cause, but will wait to see what you guys think. Has anyone seen anything like this?

    I am in New Zealand, so many of the predators you have in other countries, like foxes, coyotes, badgers(?) etc we dont have here. The main/only predators here would be ducks, domestic cats, possum(not opossum) hedgehogs, domestic dogs, hawks, and stoats/weasel/ferret. None of these I would have expected to wound ducks like this....

    Photos attached.

    - First two are Catrin, 2.5 yr old mallard who I found wandering near the road, disorientated and unable to see. The photos were taken a good 6 weeks later, and while he looks a bit scary in the photos I am, happy to say his eyes healed well, returned to their normal shape and appearance, and he is almost fully recovered now, and I expect him to eventually have no physical signs of his injury.
    - Next 3 are juvenille mallard I found today, with extensive head abrasions and feathers pulled off, plus skin raw/irritated over back.
    - Last two are a female juvenile, whose wounds are mucc less extensive than the first two.

    Not photographed: A second juvie female has similar wounds, and a third, has more extensive wounds similar to the juvenile male.
    It seems as if the attacks are increasing in frequency and severity, as I first found one bird, then one a few days later, but in the last 2 days there have been 3 new victims. I am afraid that a duck is going to be killed if I cant identify the cause soon.

    I am home most the time, my ducks live and roam where I live, and I can normally hear when ducks are fighting, drakes are harrassing a female, etc.

    Any advice or thoughts much appreciated

    Has anyone seen similar to this?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
  2. Mandrogora

    Mandrogora Chirping

    Jun 28, 2018
    Those look like mating wounds to me.
    Ducksandchickens likes this.
  3. Kimmyh51

    Kimmyh51 Songster

    Nov 16, 2015
    Yeah thats what I suspect too, although I think the drake, Catrin, was attacked by something else as I found hhim out by the road, and he was pretty good at standkng up for himself.

    Sadly, I think I have discovered the culprits just this morning, since the above post and they are two young drakes that I hand raised (human imprinted). They have been in a separate run for the last couple of weeks, which is when all but the first attack, occured, and the run is down the back by a paddock where a lot of the juvenile mallards hang out, ducks who have only just started flying. I suspect that the ones attacked have accidentally flown into their run. There is another run next door with more drakes, but I just watched a juvenile female mallard fly into that run, and while all the drakes were looking at her and a couple doing courtship gestures, none went for her. I placed her in the run with my two boys and watched. And both went straight for her. I still find it hard to believe the viciousness of the wounds though. To rip all the feathers off and make it bleed like that in one single mating attempt....
    Anyway those two drakes have been relocated to a run with wire netting over top, which the mallards cant acidentally get into. I guess if I stop finding ducks with ripped up scalps Ill know it was probably them....

    My other human imprinted drakes have all been good, they all know that sort of behaviour is not on, and rarely try it. If they do, a word from me is normally enough to stop them straight away.

    Where did I go wrong with these two lads.....

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