What took my chicken? Is it going to take my ducks too?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Learningstill, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. Learningstill

    Learningstill Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 10, 2013
    Hi everyone,

    We had only two bantam chickens and a small flock of ducks until yesterday when we noticed our little Black Widow (cochin bantam) was missing. Zero blood, just feathers. We looked for tracks could not find any.

    They are in a large fenced pen with houses and trees above. Our yard is privacy fenced, so usually we do not have any wild animals in our yard besides birds. We have lived here since 2006 and we have only ever seen two squirrels. We have never had raccoons or possums or anything like that. We have seen a hawk during the summer, but it was spooked by our goats and we never saw it again.

    We tracked feathers on the other side of our privacy fence in the neighbors yard, but still no tracks or blood.

    Our other little dutch bantam (Busta) is coming in at night for the rest of the winter, because she does not have her snuggle buddy to stay warm. But, our entire duck flock is scared. This morning, we checked on them and everyone was there, but we noticed blood spots on the ground. It could be totally unrelated to a predator because we cannot find the source of the blood, so we are thinking someone broke a nail.

    We are fairly new to this stuff, so any help is appreciated.

    Our ducks used to be in the same pen with the goats, but we moved them this past fall. Should we put them back with the goats? We have had poultry uncovered for three years and have never had anything come up missing or killed until now.

    Sorry about the length of this post. We are devastated about this. My 12 year old daughter is the main care giver and she balled all afternoon and could not sleep. She said she kept waking up praying for the ducks safety. She collected some of black Widow's feathers to make something to remember her by.

  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Learningstill, I am seeing an increasing number of hawk fatalities on the duck forum. That would be my first guess.

    I do not want to give you false hope. But in one case Peanut apparently was dropped by the raptor and was found a few miles away.

    The ducks are correct - they are at risk. Predators come back.

    If the goats seemed to protect them, that might be the way to go. Miss Lydia is trying some reflective tape, I believe, and perhaps some netting across the top might work for you.

    Sad for your loss. [​IMG]

    Predators work at it full time. It is just about all they do. It is quite a challenge.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  3. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    I am leaning towards hawk or at least some air predator.. that sounds like the right MO.. only feathers left behind. Any possible way to net the area?? Amiga is correct, predators return, the ducks worry is of sound mind.

    The goats may detract but not sure.... i would probably see what you can provide for shelter.. whether that be greenery, ensuring easy access to buildings etc.. they need to be able to 'take cover' if you cannot net the top.

    I mainly free range the birds here, so have no qualms about admitting how relieved i am at days end when all are accounted for. Predators are the #1 concern for keeping livestock and some are real tough to beat.

    Sorry for you loss, as a mum myself i completely get the attachment kids form to their pets.
  4. Learningstill

    Learningstill Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 10, 2013
    Thanks for responding. I do have another question, does anyone know typically how long before a hawk would return? I have been watching all day and so far they have been safe.

    They do have areas to take cover, actually most of her feathers were in one of the areas. Almost like she was taken while roosting. Has anyone heard of that?

    We have a ton of snow, so we looked for any black feathers on the snow and did not see any signs of her besides in our yard and in our neighbors.

    This is crazy! I cannot believe the predator would have taken her when the ducks usually sleep outside of their huts and she does not. I hate the thought of her being tortured. She was very innocent and trusting and would not have understood what was going on. I wish I would have been able to save her.

    What do people usually put as a screen over the run? We get snow. Are there any cheap methods for air protection?

    Okay, I had more than a single question, sorry.....
  5. Learningstill

    Learningstill Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 10, 2013
    We moved the ducks into the goats pen. We made small shelters around the pen just in case they need to take quick cover. They also can go in the goats shed if need be. Their fence is 6ft and there are still trees that overhang even though they are bare. I hope they choose to go in with the goats, because they all can fit together out of sight. The other shelters are too small to fit everyone in a single shelter.

    Keep your fingers crossed for us.

    If someone could volunteer their expertise or opinions regarding my questions above, I would appreciate it.
  6. veronicasmom

    veronicasmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 31, 2009
    The problem with putting them into an open goat pen is that other preds can still get them. Don't know where you live, but things like raccoons, mink, fishers, etc., can climb very easily. And they are not deterred by goats. In fact, I have read that fishers can actually take a small breed goat down very quickly.
    I don't want to scare you, but if they are not locked in somewhere secure at night, it is a crapshoot as to how long it will be before something finds them.
    We lock our ducks and rabbits up securely each evening and I still had a mink go after my rabbits on morning. A hungry predator is very resourceful unfortunately.
    It is hard to say when a hawk will return. If the is other prey that is easier to get than the ducks, it may not come back for a while. But if the pickings get slim in their normal hunting area, they will be back to where it was easy to get a meal.
    So sorry you lost your duck.

    Cute goat avatar btw. What kind?
  7. chickkrzi

    chickkrzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 8, 2011
    Waco texas
    "We tracked feathers on the other side of our privacy fence in the neighbors yard, but still no tracks or blood."
    With a tail of feathers on the ground I'm thinking more of a 4 legged predator instead of bird of pray. Also you seem to think this happen during the night, with the exception of an owl don't think it was a bird
    I' would be looking for a wild cat or raccoon. If that's the case it will return for your ducks seeing you put up the other hen. I've had this same problem, but lost one of my silkie hens. Had a trail of feathers 50 yards long, no blood or tracks. I put out a trap with can cat food. Two nights later I caught a 15 lbs raccoon. Haven't lost another chicken. I would find a friend with a trap and bait it with tuna fish for at lest a week. You'll trap every wild cat or raccoon within 1/2 mile. Good Lu k
  8. Learningstill

    Learningstill Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 10, 2013
    We used to lock our ducks and chickens up until about a year ago and since then they have had a come as you please policy without any problems until now :hit Unfortunately, we do not have enough room for all of them to be put up in the duck house and their huts do not have doors. That is why we thought if the goats were with them, just maybe they would stand a chance :fl We really cannot do anything until spring, too much snow. The ducks for two years were with the goats and we never lost anything, so I am hoping this will get us through winter.

    We are unsure when she was taken. My daughter feeds them in the morning and at bedtime. Black Widow was there the night before, but it was dark in the morning and my daughter does not remember seeing her or her feathers. I look into the pen every morning and greet everyone on my way to take the kids to school and I do not remember seeing her feathers, however sometime during the late morning-early afternoon I noticed her feathers, but could not tell what it was. When my daughter went to feed them that is when she realized she was not there. We looked for her and clues for the next couple of hours and only found feathers. :(

    If we had raccoons would it leave alone trash? We recently missed our trash day and had a bag of garbage sitting on the ground and nothing got into it. I wish I could figure this out without losing any other babes.

    I hope we do not lose anything again! I wish it were spring, so I did not feel like such a crappy mom. I cannot stand the thought of any of them dying, because of my negligence.

    Thanks for the input! I will check about the trap, good idea. I was thinking about cameras.

    The goat is a Nigerian Dwarf named Bramble. He is a spunky fellow. He also shares the space with his half brother Frostfur and two does named Moonflower and Ottersplash. Oh yeah, we are in MI.

    Thanks again!!!
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  9. chickkrzi

    chickkrzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 8, 2011
    Waco texas
    Well not sure about it passing on the trash. But I'm sure if it was a bird of pray all your feathers would be piled up by what's left of your hen. Not spread out, well unless it was windy. But I still don't think they ( feathers) would blow over a privacy fence. I'm still thinking a 4 legged predator. Like I said I had the same problem you had. So I definitely know how you feel. And searched the web trying to find a solution. And this is what I came up with.
    Owls... will just remove the head and neck of the birds leaving the body intact. Best to besure your flock is locked up before dusk.
    Hawks ... will leave a pile of feathers next to the body. And just eating the breasts. Best to have a large covered area for your hens to run under, some people believe in hanging shiny objects like CD disk around there run.
    wild cats (bobcats, domesticated cat,) will kill its pray then carry the body off in order to find a secluded place, but if they have young ones they will carry the body back to their den. Will stop eating when full and hide the remains inorder to finished at another time. Will NOT eat bones.
    Possum and skunks... will drag the body a short distance from the kill zone and dine on the internals organs starting from the backside, then leaving most of the upper part of the body.
    Raccoons... will kill the bird on site, then carry it off dinning on it as it leaves the scene. If its pray small (such as a chicken) it will completely devour its pray bones an all.
    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014
  10. PimentoPlymouth

    PimentoPlymouth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2012
    I had a similar incident happen and it turned out to be a coon. I had never seen one on or near our property until I put out a live trap and caught it the night after we lost a hen. It didnt take the hen but it killed it in the coop and left. It had chewed a hole through the bottom of my coop floor. I put the live trap under the coop near where it had chewed the hole and sure enough it was in there the next morning. Once a predator finds and easy meal it will return until it dosen't have a reason to.

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