Ducks suddenly are terrified of me

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by yoyosma, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. yoyosma

    yoyosma Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 13, 2011
    Whidbey Island
    Has this happened to anyone else?
    My 5 Welsh Harlequin females, 3 1/2 to 4 months old, are very suddenly acting afraid of me and everything else. They've been super-calm and friendly; they have never wanted to be touched or picked up, but are very used to me, easy to herd in at night, not upset by the chicken coop being constructed near them, etc. - really, amazingly calm!
    Then, yesterday morning they didn't want to come out of their coop/run area; panic and run into the corners if I come in; don't want to swim in their pool (which is totally unheard of!!) or go in the garden; & leap into the air like they're trying to fly away, if I open a bag of feed or move at all quickly.
    Normally, in the morning, they're running in circles next to the run door as I open it, and file past me talking happily- then they spend the whole day out in the garden. They'll come and hang out with me when I'm weeding or sitting in the garden, too. 3 have eaten out of my hand, and would come when I called.
    This change in behavior is very sad to see, and all I can think of is that something really scared them night before last. We don't have many people nearby, so I don't think a person did it, but it could have been a predator outside the coop/run door.
    Gosh, all my poultry have psychological problems! My neurotic geese have settled in, though, and I just hope the duckies do too.
    Any advice, other than to just be calm and slow-moving around them?
  2. featherfinder

    featherfinder Runner Lover

    Offer them treats to coax them out. Throw them on the gorund a few feet in front of them and show them things are ok. Maybe put a little solar garden light out by the pen for night time? It will just take them time and lots of treats and reasurance on your part.
  3. ChickInDelight

    ChickInDelight Never an Empty Nest

    Apr 27, 2011
    Browntown, VA
    Perhaps a snake? Sounds like something scared them.
  4. Hunter0704

    Hunter0704 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 8, 2011
    Wentzville, MO
    Definitely sounds like something (someone) scarred them. If you have raccoons in your area, I would say that is probably the problem. They were probably trying to get inside to the ducks and who knows how long there were there running back and forth at the fence. I would leave a light on where they spend the night for a while at least until they settle down. If you do think raccoons are the problem, I would put a trap out immediately and get rid of them. If they have been there once trying to get in, they will return!!!!
  5. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    It's a stage they go through. Just keep on doing what you normally do and they will grow through it.
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    I have seen both types of nervous - the young ducks going through that "everything is scary" stage, which happened to my flock seemingly overnight at about three weeks of age, then slowly faded over the following 4 to 6 weeks, and I have seen them made nervous by a wild animal nearby. I think you may have the latter.

    What's your setup? How secure are the ducks? Can you get a light and watch to see what's visiting, if that is the case? Do you have electric fence?

    It would be good for you to make sure you have a secure spot for them, and also try to get them to calm down around you with treats and spending a little time just sitting near them for a while every day if possible.
  7. yoyosma

    yoyosma Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 13, 2011
    Whidbey Island
    Thank you to everyone for your feedback-
    Amiga, the night-time coop/run is very secure; BUT the ducks would be able to see and hear a predator outside the hardwarecloth covered run door. I'm thinking maybe I should make a door or even hang a blanket, so that they'd feel more secure. I really don't doubt that the coop would keep the predators out, but the poor ducks don't know that.
    And, I do have electric poultry netting around where the geese sleep, which shares a fence with the ducks' area (the geese's behavior hasn't changed).
    I could put a motion-activated light out there- would that deter a raccoon, I wonder? I do notice that the ducks get pretty freaked out if I'm shining a light around at night...
    I'll spend some time just sitting with them; the weather's not too great for that right now, but I do want them to get over this!
  8. yoyosma

    yoyosma Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 13, 2011
    Whidbey Island
    Just wanted to update that the ducks did just grow out of this phase, as Oregon Blues suggested- it's back to friendly and fun around here.
    Plus they've started laying some eggs every day, which is SO cool!
    And today, the eggs were even in the nest box- what smart ducks they are!
  9. featherfinder

    featherfinder Runner Lover

    [​IMG] Great to hear!
  10. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member


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