Something here only likes duck...UPDATE

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Sunny Side Up, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Although I have chickens, a guinea, Khaki Campbell ducks, Pekin ducks, Indian Runner ducks, and Embden geese, there has been something around here lately that is only going after the Khaki Campbell ducks. The guinea & the ducks & geese free-range all day, the chickens are let out in the afternoons. At nightfall the guinea & the chickens all go into their pens to roost but the ducks & geese hang out in the yard until they're shooed into their houses. Often they'll congregate near their pens.

    For several weeks now we have been losing Khaki Campbell ducks, one by one. I wasn't sure if it was a predator, or duck hens going off to be broody, or illness. One day I noticed a KC drake who wasn't looking well and watched him go into a corner to lay down. The next morning he was there, dead. I wondered if the other missing ducks had done something similar, found a hidden spot to go to die.

    We have been searching the yard for feathers or bodies, or even body parts, and have found none.

    We have been trying to get out at nightfall to put everyone in, but sometimes our activities keep us out until later. The other night we pulled into the driveway at around 9pm to hear the waterfowl quacking & honking & running in a group around to the front yard. Something had obviously spooked them, and sure enough, there was one less KC duck to put away that night.

    Now this morning I found a duck that had been killed inside her duck house. The sides are 2" square wire, and something reached in through it to grab her. She was just gnawed upon around her neck.

    We'll be spending time today reinforcing the sides of that house with hardware cloth, and setting all the Hav-a-hart traps with fresh bait. And putting the ducks away by nightfall. We're even going to keep the 2 Pekins in a crate inside overnight, they're my son's absolute favorites. He'd take them to bed if he could.

    Please pray for success in trapping this predator, and for safety for the flock. Thank you!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2010
  2. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    something reaching thru the wire & eating the head sounds like a coon.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That last one sure sounds like a coon or a weasel, but that does not match the total disappearance ones. For that, I'd think an owl, fox, bobcat, coyote, or feral dog. Something big enough to carry it away. Some parts of Florida have bears. Not sure if that is a possibility for you. I think they are going after the ducks because they are most convenient. And it sounds like a single predator because it is one at a time. Is there some way you could look for tracks, maybe raking smooth some dirt or spread flour on the ground where they might be if it is dry enough? It would help to know what you are dealing with.

    I'd be skeptical of them getting sick and going off to die. I'd think if they were not feeling well they would want to go somewhere comfortable and familiar. I'd also think you'd find the bodies or remains after a few days after the scavengers found them. I could be wrong on this. Just my opinion.

    Sure wish you luck. This one does not sound real easy.
     
  4. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Around my place the most trouble comes from raccoons, and sometimes opossums. Maybe it's a really large raccoon that has kits it's feeding. Although often when I catch a troublesome raccoon it turns out to be a large male. That makes me wonder if someone from the nearby suburbs is trapping raccoons they find in their garbage and are releasing them in my acreage neighborhood, which they think is "the wild".

    Later today I also noticed feathers at the top of a small tree where some bantams insist on roosting, the hen that used to stay there is gone and the feathers were her color. I had the traps set but hadn't paid enough attention to the fact that the bait had all dried up, that is my fault. They've all been re-set with fresh bait and everyone we can reach has been secured for the night. The duck houses have been reinforced with hardware cloth and my son's favorites, his 2 Pekins, are in a crate in the laundry room for the night.

    [​IMG] Lord, please keep my birds safe and give me success in trapping the culprit! [​IMG]
     
  5. pennie1

    pennie1 Redneck Silkie

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    Aug 17, 2009
    Hiles
    They are probably going after the ducks because they are the easiest to catch. [​IMG]
     
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I'm starting to wonder if I'm dealing with 2 different predators, a big owl and a raccoon. Maybe it's an owl that's been snatching the ducks from the yard at night before they've been put in their houses for the night. Because it's only been the Khaki Campbells going missing, and not the meatier Pekins. I'd think a 4-legged predator would prefer the Pekins, but an owl would target ducks that are lighter & easier to carry away. But it sure looks like a raccoon that killed the duck inside the duck house. I can't do much to protect the ducks from an owl except make sure they're put away before dark, and I have the traps set to catch a raccoon.
     
  7. MMPoultryFarms

    MMPoultryFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2010
    Okarche Oklahoma
    Its a cat. ducks are part of there diet, rabbits, wild turkeys, also.Could be a bobcat by the description of the killing in the cage. Yes coons do this as well But reguardless A duck would Put up enough struggle to leave a trace of feathers somewhere. Ducks and geese arent like Poultry they are built to see in the dark. all they need is the smallest of light, moonlight ect.
    Now that doesn't leave the sly fox out so easly. the fox is cunning and witty, A fox can destroy chicken wire and even hardware cloth but typically it choses to climb/dig A fox cannot grip a predator threw a cage and pull it to them there not built that way. So that leaves again a few predators. we cannot rule out, If i had to take my guess I would say that the cage bird killed was a bobcat. (possibly a coon but the khaki Duck is pretty nice sized so Unless it was just a perfect opportunity I dont see it being the coon. but we cannot rule him out just yet.)
    I am dealing with the same exact issue you are I have a 30 + pound cat carrying off all my ducks. We have been tracking him spent the better part of the day with my state trapper as well.I have to lean on big cat.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  8. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    On Saturday morning I found a BOBCAT in one of the traps! [​IMG] In seven years here I've never seen one before, although I know it's possible they have been here for a while. There are lots & lots of wild rabbits in the yard, but maybe this cat decided to switch to poultry.

    The problem isn't completely resolved, I don't think this bobcat was working alone. [​IMG] It may have been a female with kits it was feeding, or maybe it is one of a family group, or maybe it was running a catering business from our yard. It seems that I have lost too many birds for just one cat to be eating alone. We've lost 8 ducks, 2 capons, 3 bantams, and 2 standard chickens. And a very large rooster was taken the evening before the morning I found the cat in the trap. Later I went exploring in the neighbor's woods to collect evidence and found a pile of feathers and only the head of this rooster. How could it have eaten the entire bird and still be hungry enough to be tempted by the bait in the trap?

    And sadly, last night I lost another duck, this time it was one of the young Runners. [​IMG] So now I plan to be home before nightfall each day, which will be more difficult now with DST over. My kids & I keep an erratic schedule, and don't always get home at the same time each day. But now that must change, and I must plan to be home at least an hour before nightfall. That way we can be in the yard while the free-rangers come back to roost, to feed/water/collect eggs, to tuck everyone into their pens & houses by nightfall. Then hopefully the cat will be more tempted to visit the traps if it cannot find any poultry available in the backyard buffet.

    What do you know about bobcats? Are their numbers growing like those of raccoons & opossums? Do you think they'd be tempted by catnip & cat treats? I plan to add some to the traps tonight.

    [​IMG] Please pray for safety for the flock, and success with the trapping!
     
  9. MMPoultryFarms

    MMPoultryFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2010
    Okarche Oklahoma
    Bobcat females Hunt on a 15-50 mile radius Typically its 15 milesunless food sources are low. They boarder there territorys with a male for breeding purposes only. They do not share territory, they would rather die defending whats theres then share it. They call the male in for breeding and he remains there and with the cubs until 2 weeks of age. At that time she will kick the male out of the den and start teaching the cubs to hunt on there own. I live with Bobcats, I track, trap,and hunt them, they have wiped my flock out as well minus 2 geese and 3 ducks I quickly hauled to the sale so I would get some money back. Hope this helps I am building a video on tracking and trapping bobcats. for the forum Hopefully it will be done soon.
     
  10. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I am fairly certain there is another bobcat in this area. Last night I smoothed the sand in front of the barn and this morning there were definite cat tracks, 2" wide, not house cat tracks. No birds were lost, but nothing went into the traps. I am going to move a few of the traps to new locations and bait them with canned sardines in hopes of catching this cat. Are there things that hunters use to lure bobcats? Pray for success with my hunt!
     

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