Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Hard Lesson Learned

We lost the second and last little Cayuga duckling yesterday.  To the same predator (or a relative) as the first one.

Yes, we've been trying to remedy the crow situation.  No, our efforts haven't been adequate.  Obviously.

We now realize if we are going to be successful in raising homestead- hatched waterfowl we will have to keep the mamas and offspring in a secure pen until they reach a certain size.

What will that size be?  Several years ago our daughter had a crow take a half-grown chicken.

In the past we've raised hatched goslings with no trouble.  Also chicks.  Were the mama geese big enough to protect their young from the marauding crows?  Why didn't we lose any of the tiny bantam chicks the bantam hen last hatched out and raised in the same pasture?  Were the little Cayuga ducklings just too small?  Too easy to pick up and carry away?  Was the first-time Cayuga mama not experienced enough to protect her young?

Right now we're feeling quite the failures at adequately protecting our birds and being able to establish our own homestead breeding stock of ducks and geese.

Live and learn, as they say.  We've been learning.

18 comments:

Fiona said...

Loosing anything is so hard but unfortunately anyone who has animals faces it. We are continually counting the hens chicks. This might sound odd but we have let the lawn get shaggy for two reasons, one the shade of 5 to 6 inch seed stalks is enjoyed by all and the second...cover for the little ones. We lost one little khaki duckling but think an aggressive drake ran over it. Do you have an area with taller cover?

Mama Pea said...

Fiona - You've given us something to think about . . . hubby within the last week mowed the poultry pasture because we've noticed the chickens don't seem to go where the grass is high. I wonder if we just made it easier for the crows to see the ducklings? Dang and drat! Thanks for the suggestions you've shared, Fiona.

Susan said...

Oh, dammit. I've got quite a few crows hanging around which, I thought, was a good thing - that usually means no hawks. I'll never look at them the same way.

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Meeeeee either! :o(

Sue said...

Oh, Sweet Mama Pea-I'm so so sorry.
It's hard to know why it happens sometimes and not others. One thing we know for sure is once they find a food source, they WILL be back for more.
I know you hate to pen them up, but I think that might be the ONLY way..........

Sandy said...

Sweet Mama Pea,

I'm so.so.sorry to hear about the second little duckling. Those crows, black birds are just like the vultures. Even putting netting as a roof they seem to find ways around it.

Time for the pellet gun!!!!

Hugs, Sandy

Dawn McHugh said...

that is a shame, we have lots of covered areas the chickens can run to if there is buzzards about and there is usually an alarm call that sends them all running, if the long grass works let us know, will they try to hatch another brood now.

DFW said...

Please don't be too hard on yourselves. Live & learn & always find a better way. Which I have no doubt you will do & succeed in the future.

Mama Pea said...

Sue - Yep, you're right. That's what we'll do with any future ones. (And you can bet crows are no longer welcome around here!)

Mama Pea said...

You've got it, Sandy!

Mama Pea said...

Dawn - We do have a patch of heavy bushes and trees in the poultry pasture and that's where the birds head for lickety-split when they spot a hawk overhead. I think the birds don't sound an alert for crows because they aren't a threat for the big birds.

We think the brooding season is over for the ducks. Next year, we'll be ready for taking good care of any that are hatched.

Mama Pea said...

DFW - Thanks so much for the encouraging words. If we can learn from mishaps and mistakes, I guess we're making progress . . . in a way. It's the old hindsight that doesn't do much good. :o/

Laurie said...

Time for some crow pie. I never knew they would bother other birds. Learn something new everyday. I have no doubt you will come up with a solution.

Mark said...

That is sad!! We had a hen go broody just today, so we'll need to thinking about this, too.

Sparkless said...

Oh wow! I didn't realize a crow would do that. Maybe in the past there just wasn't any crows smart enough or brave enough to make a try for the babies. Either way it sucks that you have lost all the ducklings.

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - The "solution" may very well be crow pie!

Mama Pea said...

Mark - I've had crows pull new plants right out of the garden by the roots (and then let them just lie there --- grrrr!), but we've never seen one take a chick or duckling or goslings before. :o( Be forewarned!

Mama Pea said...

Sparkless - Yep, especially with such a small hatch in the first place.