Repeat offender keeps attacking my ducks

spotter29

In the Brooder
Jul 7, 2021
4
13
18
So for the sake of brevity i’ll try to give you all as much info as i can without giving too much to read, because i really need some help identifying this predator before i lose my whole flock.

I think i have narrowed it down to a few likely culprits based on my research and the trends i’ve noticed. Last weekend was the first strike, two ducks dead, one duck maimed beyond recognition and somehow hid long enough under the deck to survive. She is making a recovery inside our house in a quarantined shower. Every duck was attacked in the same way, the front and back of their necks removed, with some small rips and punctures, two of them had a lot of missing feathers on their rump. Happened late at night. Tragic because none of their meat was eaten. Their heads and brains were unscathed. Their abdomens and breasts were unscathed. Whatever it is, is killing them systematically by attacking their necks.

Last night i came home to my drake Stampy in the same condition. He looks completely untouched except the entire back of his neck has been removed, to the point where i can see his tendons flexing when he moves his head or drinks water.

So whatever is doing this, is coming back and keeping an eye on them nightly. The only times they’ve been attacked have been when they decided to leave their enclosed run to sleep outside (which they always enjoyed without trouble, so until now I was allowing this). Our yard is about a quarter acre in the back and we have a 5.5’ fence completely enclosing it. No evidence of burrowing anywhere, not at their coop, not at the fence.

Last night i came home just in time to save Stampy’s life and keep my last hen safe. I noticed when i came home that the yard was too quiet (the ducks usually greet me) so my suspicion rose immediately, i turned my flashlight on and I saw two yellow eyes peering at me from their coop area. Whatever it was i chased it away before i could identify it. My hen let out a startled honk and quickly ran away, flapping its wings. But it was dark and now i’m inclined to think that this flapping sound could have been coming from the predator. Whatever it was, it either went up in our spruce tree or hopped the fence. I would like to try and trap whatever it is but if it’s an Owl i have no idea how.

i have it narrowed down to Fox, Raccoon, Owl, or Cat. It could have been a mink or weasel but the eyes were too large and spread out so i’m ruling them out, especially since no signs of predation have been found inside their enclosure.

Please, share any opinions you might have because i’m at my wits end. I don’t want to keep them locked up all the time but will do whatever i have to in order to keep them safe. Let me know if i can share any other info to help you narrow things down. We are new to having a flock (its our 2nd summer) with us and would love to hear from people with experience. We are located in northern colorado for reference. I attached a few gruesome pics for reference as well. Thank you for reading and god bless
 

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Your only option is to keep them in a predator proof coop and run.
I can think of a few other options off the top of my head. We already keep them in a predator proof coop and run, but sometimes they have the desire to come and go freely, so we put an end to that. I’m looking for help identifying the predator so i can plan accordingly, make any necessary changes, etc... I’m not going to keep them locked up for the rest of their lives just because I can’t figure out what’s attacking them.

Do you have any inclination what animal could be doing this? That was the whole point of me creating this post.
 
It could be coon, fox, owl, hawk etc. If you free range at all, it's a matter of time before something happens. Get rid of the predator you have now, another will take its place.
If you have a live trap, set it. Game cams, put them out.
They only free range during the day when we’re home. Otherwise they stay enclosed and so far none of them have been injured that way. If it’s someone’s cat, I don’t believe another one will be taking its place. Not for quite some time. Eventually yes, but not every night creating danger for my cat and dog as well. But an Owl, shoot I don’t think I can really do jack to stop one of them. I don’t have traps or cameras so my thought is to start with a camera, see if i can actually identify the predator, then can plan to trap accordingly. Can you recommend any game cameras? What do you do to keep your flock safe?
 
Until you figure out what your dealing with, keep them locked up. A fox can jump a 5.5' fence with ease. A coon can climb a fence with ease. Get yourself a trail cam. If you can set a live trap without catching your cat, do so.
Thanks for the replies and the advice my friend. Will start right away with a lockdown and get a game cam en route asap. I appreciate you responding. Any advice for Owls or nocturnal birds of prey specifically?
 
For daytime raptors, a covered run. The same for owls. Here we've had occasional hawk visitations, and then we keep the birds in their safe coop and run for at least ten days, up to three weeks, until that hawk gives up and moves on.
Our birds are locked in safely every night, and we've never had a problem with owls.
As already mentioned, your birds need to be in a safe place until this situation is resolved.
Mary
 

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