What killed my duck?!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by MerMer, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. MerMer

    MerMer New Egg

    Dec 29, 2010
    We live in Preston Hollow, a woodsy and creeked neighborhood in Dallas. Around noon on Christmas, our friend found one of our precious Rouens, Cupcake, dead on her back, feathers in a circle around her, with her lower belly cut open and a lot of her entrails dragged out onto the ground. Strangely, not much of her was consumed. She still had her head, tail, and legs. (Please forgive the graphic nature of this description but I want to know what animal would have killed her this way) Our friend said she was still soft and limp, so the predator must have attacked that morning in the daylight less than 4 hours before.

    We were out of town and had taken our big dog with us, so he was not around to deter critters. We have never had a problem with coons or possums attacking our ducks. Last summer, a wild duck had been found this way. Our friend said large birds were squawking at her when she went to take Cupcake's body away. We have never seen bobcats or coyotes, although they have been spotted in Dallas. We saw a fox years ago. But these three predators hunt at night and usually carry their prey away with them, or at least consume all of it. Her body was found where they sit by the pond, so whatever it was might have snuck up on her, the first pounce being a success. My friend did not find any blood marks or signs of bites on her neck though. She was small for a Rouen and the smallest of the the four ducks.

    This leads me to suspect a housecat, although how it would have snuck up on them is beyond me, because the yard has no tall grass or places to crouch behind. I read housecats will kill for fun, in daylight, and are known to strew entrails around, but they also are known to carry their prize away with them or drag it to a more private eating location...maybe my little 5 lb duck was too heavy? Or a hawk, because their favorite is the guts and they pluck the feathers around the body in a circle...possibly he was interrupted by my friend's arrival before he had a chance to consume much? Might he have been among the squawking birds?

    Again, apologies for the graphic nature of this, but I would like to be able to know the other three ducks will be safe, and to do that, it would help to know what killed Cupcake. We have built a floating "duck barge" with a little shelter on it, and an anchor to keep it in place in the center of the pond. This should help. Does anyone have any ideas about Cupcake's predator? We sure would appreciate it!
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    The circle of feathers scattered around the kill site is quite typical of a raptor attack. After killing, they will straddle the carcass and pluck feathers to gain access to the body of the victim. Is there any place with a roof that you can confine your ducks? If it is a bird of prey, it will most likely return. Good luck.
  3. bufforp89

    bufforp89 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2009
    Chenango Forks NY
    I agree. a bird of prey did it. I have been having issues with a red tailed hawk and it has killed 3 of my birds in the exact manner as you described. We actually saw it feeding on one of my cochins a few weeks ago and yesterday it dived into my new netting to get at my birds as I was pulling in my driveway. I would get your remaining birds undercover, it will come back again and again now that it knows there is food about.
  4. MerMer

    MerMer New Egg

    Dec 29, 2010
    Thanks for the advice. We have been taking them into the garage for the night and letting them back out around 9:30 in the morning while walking around the yard with them. I've been looking up into the trees and thought I saw a hawk yell and fly away on the first morning, but also thought I might be seeing what my imagination was seeing instead of the real thing. It could have been something else. We had our dog with us as well. Whatever it was didn't like people or dogs and has not returned.

    We made them a floating barge with a covered shelter and put it under a vinous shrub that grows out over the lake. Anything that might jump on the bush would break the little branch, fall into the water, and would certainly get tangled in the shrub. In the summer it will completely hide the shelter when it has leaves. I know hawks wouldn't dare to attack this shelter. The only problem is that the ducks don't seem to like it, even when we put their favorite treats on it. And they most likely would not hang out there during the day when hawks operate. Maybe they just need a few days to get used to it.

    Now that we think it was a hawk, we will have to build a land shelter for them, but how long will we need to keep them there? They get so miserable in the garage. Do hawks give up and move on after a while? They can't just be stuck in a coop for the rest of their lives.
    This has never happened before, so does anyone think the predator will stay away when the dogs and my parents are home from the holidays for good?

    Thanks again for your replies. They were truly helpful.
  5. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

    Oct 2, 2008
    Hawks will check back an area where they got a kill periodically. Even if a hawk does move on, it seems that his friend the Barn Owl will stop by instead. Ask me how I know this [​IMG]

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