About a week or so ago I could only count four ducks. There should have been five. We began to suspect that, like our first drake, one of the ducks had been taken by an owl. In some ways that didn't seem all that likely because the ducks are actually pretty heavy; they barely can fly to the top of the goat shed to roost at night. It would have taken a pretty stout owl to carry one off. But there were no body remains and no other explanation as to what might have happened.
Last Sunday we found half of a duck eggshell in front of the cattle panel hay hut. There was a little blood inside the shell but no trace of the rest of it. The ducks have never laid outside the goat shed or chicken coop, so it was another puzzle.
The next day Dan said he heard one of the ducks putting up a terrible fuss. He went to see what it was and saw her on the ground near the hay hut, wrestling a huge rat snake! He dispatched the snake immediately and watched the duck head back under the hay house platform. He peered underneath and could see her settling down in the farthest back corner.
A quick head count told us that was our missing duck! She has been hiding under there for a week at least, maybe more! That can mean only one thing - she's sitting on eggs.
With the snake gone we thought all was well until dusk when I went to close up the chicken coop and shut the gates. I found another duck eggshell in about the same spot; this one had a hole bitten out in order for something to get to the contents. Considering all the trouble we had with rats several years ago, Dan set the rat trap and placed it under the hay hut to one side. It was empty the next morning.
Two days later Dan found another rat snake in one of the compost bins. We're hoping that there was only two of them and that's an end of the problem.
I read that Muscovy eggs take an average of 33-37 days to hatch. I don't really recollect exactly when our duck "disappeared," so my best guess is that if she has any eggs left and something doesn't get them, we just might see ducklings somewhere toward the end of the month.
No Hope for Ducklings? © June 2016