Keeping my ducks safe from a very large hawk.

TomCahalan

In the Brooder
Feb 13, 2020
10
13
20
Ohio
Right now I have five runners and one campbell. They have a coop but no longer use it. I just let them wander around and sleep outside in my fenced yard. There is a very large hawk living in the neighbor's tree. It is much larger than my ducks and my neighbor saw it swoop down to get my ducks, I don't know the details, but the target got away unharmed. We have lived here a few months now so if the hawk could kill one he would have done so by now. Also, at least two my runners (the drake and a duck) could fly over the fence. I trimmed some of the flight feathers so they gave it up.

I would like to build a pond for my ducks. Will this turn them into "sitting ducks"?

I would like to breed them with a larger meat breed, such as appleyard, to increase the carcass size. Will the appleyards be able to outrun/outfight the hawk? Will this make the next generation more susceptible to the hawk? How important is the runner body-shape to their survival?
 

johntfs

Songster
Dec 1, 2019
384
693
121
Jackson, Tennessee
Honestly right now your flock are already "sitting ducks." Presumably the hawk was more bored than anything else on its first try. Your ducks can't fly and they're in the open. If the hawk wants them, it'll get them at this point. If you really want to keep them safe, you're probably going to need to reduce the size of their run to a point that you can fully cover it with strong bird netting. Otherwise it's likely just a matter of time before that hawk gets bored or hungry enough that he'll take one or more of your flock.
 

DuckyDonna

Free Ranging
Aug 26, 2018
3,504
13,120
706
Dallas, Georgia
Oh, you've been extremely lucky so far, or should I say your ducks have been. You won't have to worry about breeding them because soon you won't have any if you don't start protecting them with netting over the top and a proper fence and coop.

They are not going to "outrun" a hawk, falcon etc. no matter how big they are. It's just a matter of time until the hawk swoops down and grabs one of them. You must have other 4 legged predators such as coyote, fox, raccoon too.
 

BallsEleven

In the Brooder
Dec 12, 2019
14
10
26
Right now I have five runners and one campbell. They have a coop but no longer use it. I just let them wander around and sleep outside in my fenced yard. There is a very large hawk living in the neighbor's tree. It is much larger than my ducks and my neighbor saw it swoop down to get my ducks, I don't know the details, but the target got away unharmed. We have lived here a few months now so if the hawk could kill one he would have done so by now. Also, at least two my runners (the drake and a duck) could fly over the fence. I trimmed some of the flight feathers so they gave it up.

I would like to build a pond for my ducks. Will this turn them into "sitting ducks"?

I would like to breed them with a larger meat breed, such as appleyard, to increase the carcass size. Will the appleyards be able to outrun/outfight the hawk? Will this make the next generation more susceptible to the hawk? How important is the runner body-shape to their survival?
Just get you a goose!


No but really you've got a matter of time before the hawk takes one. I'd go .22LR or build them a better pen and let them out when you are home.
 

SkyeT

Songster
Aug 7, 2018
267
683
166
San Antonio
We thought the same thing once upon a time. "There is a hawk couple in the neighborhood and we've had our ducks for 4 months and haven't been attacked." They even nested next door to us last year and nothing. Then it did happen, despite the precautions we took. The hawk, if hungry (especially if they have eggs), will do just about anything to get a meal. We bought a 7x10 foot pen that is covered top to bottom with chicken fencing. It took us a week to teach them to march into it in the evening. Now they actually put themselves to bed if we take too long to come out at night. We let them out about an hour after sunrise when the hawks seem to disappear. All attacks in our neighborhood have happened at sunup and sundown. They need to be inside something to keep them safe during peak hawk hunting hours.
 

SkyeT

Songster
Aug 7, 2018
267
683
166
San Antonio
We only had 7 to begin with. We lost 3 in the span of 2 months. And it about killed us to lose them as they are very much our pets and loved. With each loss we did something else to keep them safe that was suggested. It helped, but he hawks figured it out. Ultimately, the pen was what did the trick.
 

TomCahalan

In the Brooder
Feb 13, 2020
10
13
20
Ohio
We only had 7 to begin with. We lost 3 in the span of 2 months. And it about killed us to lose them as they are very much our pets and loved. With each loss we did something else to keep them safe that was suggested. It helped, but he hawks figured it out. Ultimately, the pen was what did the trick.
Ok, well that is good information, thank you. I enjoy looking at my ducks, but I don't consider them pets, so the loss of a few won't be hard on me.

Anyway, does anyone else have any answers to my actual questions? Which breeds are better at survival, and how much does a pond decrease survival rates?
 

johntfs

Songster
Dec 1, 2019
384
693
121
Jackson, Tennessee
Ok, well that is good information, thank you. I enjoy looking at my ducks, but I don't consider them pets, so the loss of a few won't be hard on me.

Anyway, does anyone else have any answers to my actual questions? Which breeds are better at survival, and how much does a pond decrease survival rates?
Given your situation, the answers to your question are irrelevant, it seems to me. You have a really large hawk that hangs out near your yard and your ducks are unprotected from aerial predators. But okay. Breeds? Maybe Jumbo Pekin or Muscovy drakes? They're large so they might put the hawk off from attacking. Probably not, because it's a hawk, but maybe. Of course, they'd be large, aggressive drakes, which tends to bring its own issues in terms of duck survival.

As for a pond, I really do not know. Water might spook the hawk and ducks do seem to be a bit more agile in the water, so maybe a slight improvement on survival. But the fact is that short of covering your run area to protect your ducks from "death from above" (or just flat-out killing the hawk, which is likely illegal), there's really not much you can do to protect your flock.
 

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