Female Rouen - vanished, MIA

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by ChrisWNY, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. ChrisWNY

    ChrisWNY Just Hatched

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    Sep 1, 2016
    Pendleton, NY
    This past April, I became the proud owner of 2 baby Rouens, which turned out to be a male and female (just my luck). The male is quite tame...eats from my hand, lets me pet him, etc., the female was slightly more shy but I was still able to pick her up and handle her fairly regularly. Since my ducklings were old enough and the weather warmed up in May, they have free ranged in my back yard. They typically stay close to the house, since their kiddie pool and food are always nearby.

    Just yesterday I returned home around noon for lunch and only my male Rouen came running up to me. Normally I ALWAYS see the 2 ducks in pairs, they've been inseparable since I raised them as ducklings. So something immediately seemed off when I saw my male Rouen running toward me alone...I walked all over my 2 acre property (surrounded by cornfield...both ducks take shelter in the corn during the day, and sleep in a dog house inside my garage at night), trudged through the corn rows nearby my yard, no sign at all of the female duck. She literally vanished, without a trace...no sign of a struggle, feathers laying around, etc. Being in a rural area I know that predators are around, but they typically stay far away from houses, especially because my surrounding neighbors have dogs, and there is plenty of other food available (rodents, frogs, you name it). My neighbors also watch my property like a hawk when I'm at work during the day, and they saw no unusual behavior or anything out of the ordinary yesterday.

    IF my female Rouen happens to be nesting/brooding, is it normal for her to be completely gone while the male just wanders around continuing his daily business as usual? How long might she be gone before returning, and would a duck set up a nest fairly distant from her home where she's been since April without incident?

    The male Rouen been very clingy toward me since his woman vanished yesterday (he literally walks under my legs when I'm walking through my yard). I understand that it's possible she was just nabbed by a predator (I doubt any of the hawks in my area would've taken a duck that size with ease, and that would've been noticed by neighbors in broad daylight), but considering none of my 7 chickens were touched, the male Rouen was perfectly normal/untouched, and the vanishing would've happened mid-morning yesterday, it's tough to conclude that a predator was to blame. I'm more interested in what the nesting behavior is like with these ducks...thanks!
     
  2. ChrisWNY

    ChrisWNY Just Hatched

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    Sep 1, 2016
    Pendleton, NY
    Sadly my female Rouen was discovered by my next-door neighbor late this afternoon near their ditch. Appears to be a predator attack. The duck was not eaten, but all the feathers were stripped entirely from around her neck. Didn't see any visible damage elsewhere on the duck's body which was odd. Looks like an animal just went for the neck/head and left the duck in the ditch for dead. Wondering what type of predator would have caused that sort of damage...a cat, possibly a mink/muskrat (though I don't see them often in the ditches)?
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  3. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Sorry for your loss.

    -Kathy
     
  4. gilbert2

    gilbert2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Two years ago, my two almost adult ducks had EXACTLY the same thing done to them! Their necks were stripped down to the bloody bones. In my case--it was a huge crow. I know this, because I heard the ruckus, and ran outside, only to see a massive crow flying off.
    What is even more heart breaking is that the one who was left untouched (not a scratch on him) was so thoroughly traumatized, he couldn't even lift his head. This continued through the next day, until he died.
    So what have I learned? To keep the duck area COVERED! I just used some plastic "chicken wire," and although it is not 100% taught, it does provide a good cover. Since then, there have been NO further attacks on my ducks.
     
  5. ChrisWNY

    ChrisWNY Just Hatched

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    Sep 1, 2016
    Pendleton, NY
    I did some "forensic" investigation of the crime scene yesterday. Both of my Rouens love to head for the ditch at the front of my property...mostly to eat insects (and probably frogs, etc.) out of it. It was pouring rain most of the morning when my female Rouen was killed. When my neighbor discovered her yesterday afternoon (in his ditch, on the side farthest from the road...so this was not a car incident), her head was entirely under water in the ditch, but her body was completely out of the water in a squat position, no wing/body damage whatsoever. The head/neck were stripped down to the bone.

    My best guess is that a muskrat (mink) grabbed her by the head from within the ditch water, pulled her head under water while she struggled to pull backward away from the water, and that's where things ended for her. The male/female were inseparable, so no doubt he was nearby when it happened, but there's not a scratch or mark on him (thankfully). I haven't seen many muskrats in our nearby ditches, especially considering WNY has been in a severe drought all Summer, but we've had plentiful rainfall since the end of July. The ditches have water in them again.

    The male seems to be doing well...he's really clingy and runs toward me whenever I'm outside, and follows me around like he's attached by the wing. I have an order out there for some female Rouens as I know ducks are social and I'm not home enough to keep him company all the time. He has 7 egg-laying leghorn hens that he gets along with but I don't want him mounting my hens (I've read that drakes will do this if they don't have female companions).

    My chickens and ducks free range and generally stay within my 2-acre property. Most of my neighbors own dogs, so predators (such as coyotes, raccoons, and foxes) are rarely if ever seen anywhere near the houses, likely due to the dogs being nearby. Other nearby neighbors own poultry and incidents are few and far between. I am planning on building a fully-covered pen for the winter as I know predators will be more desperate for a meal during those months.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016

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