Bad News Arrives by Text Message – Warning – Unpleasant Photo

Yesterday I was extolling the virtues of always having a smartphone handy at all times… But today, I’m kind of wishing it wasn’t quite so easy to share info [heads up – if you are squeamish, maybe you should skip this post].

My neighbour just sent me this image, snapped on her phone:

Formerly Known as a DuckMost likely, this is was one of my adventurous ducks…  Hard to say what got her – eagle? Hawk? Owl? Raccoon? When this happens it makes me question just how good an idea it is to allow my birds as much freedom to roam as they get. This is the harsh downside of free range poultry. Some stick close to home, but some venture out into the open areas (like over at C’s place, in the field) where they are pretty vulnerable to overhead attacks.

I also have a few that have taken to roosting on the barn roof at night and have now, in the wake of this loss, moved ‘re-clip duck wings’ up to the top of the To-Do list. This will help keep the ducks closer to the ground, which makes them easier to herd into their shelters at night. Clipping wings does, though, make it harder for them to get away from ground-based trouble-makers like dogs and raccoons.

It is tempting, when confronted with a pile of feathers and birds that just don’t listen to my suggestion that they stay close to tree cover, to say – That’s it! Confinement in pens for all of you! 

What do you think? Is the occasional loss of a roaming bird worth the trade-off? Confinement certainly keeps them safer, but keeping birds in a small space can lead to other issues – stress, disease spreading, and a more restricted diet. For now, I will clip wings to try to keep everyone closer to home where they can take advantage of all the trees at our place, but if the local hawks decide our place is a handy drive-in snack bar, I may need to re-think my strategy…

14 responses to “Bad News Arrives by Text Message – Warning – Unpleasant Photo

  1. Oh that is sad yet hard to prevent, unless as you say, you clip their wings or keep them caged up. We kept fancy pigeons on the farm which unfortunately were a favorite of hawks and eagles. It’s heart breaking, especially when one becomes attached, like we did and like you are, to your animals. Still I’d rather give them the freedom than keep them restricted.


  2. I lost my female duck last week, apparently killed for sport by a roaming dog . I am saddened by it but would rather them have their freedom than be confined. A good perimeter fence would help inmy situation


    • Oh man, that sucks! Did you find out who owned the dog? There is something about poultry that is just irresistible to canines… Even my lovely dogs, who totally know better, cannot be trusted to be unattended around the birds. I had them tied up and got distracted and was out of earshot for a few minutes not long ago and one of my layers decided to go over to the tied dogs to play… The game did not end well for the chicken. Nor for the dogs, really, as they got in a lot of trouble for their transgression…. But really, the blame lies with me for letting them out of my sight when loose birds were roaming around…


  3. Always sad. 😦

    When I kept a large and diverse bunch of poultry (chickens, ducks, geese) free-range, this was a problem. It’s hard to avoid. I wasn’t consistent with wing clippings for the very reasons you mention. Right now, all I have is a tiny flock of chickens. I keep them in an enclosure around their coop, but it’s a large one. I don’t clip their wings and they will go in and out of the enclosure. So they are semi-free range. It’s a home flock, though, just for eggs for the family. A few of my friends think I should let them roam completely free. I work off my farm and my older kids at home (who help) work and go to school. It’s safer for our hens to have this arrangement. If I were to expand the farm and have larger flocks again, I’d probably do what you do.


    • Sounds like you’ve worked out a good compromise… If I never had to leave the farm and if I spent every minute outside, obviously everyone would be safer. But it’s just not realistic to be on guard every minute… It winds up being a bit of a juggling act, trying to find the right balance between safety and freedom.


  4. Sorry to hear and see what happened. I’m sure you’ll come up with a good solution you and the ducks will like. Perhaps it was a rare one of a kind event.


  5. Abundance is the ability to celebrate many occasions. In the Healing Garden plants are displayed for residents who range freely in public housing. Not all tenants and employees are domesticated. Healing our hearts is difficult when life takes a piece.

    When the Garden was installed, some gardeners said some plants were too nice for ‘this kind of garden.’ My inner response to these comments convinced me that our Healing Gardens need the most beautiful, unusual, rare and fragile plants too. Healing requires cautious abundance.

    We need to heal because we are vulnerable. Myths and stories abound with mystical inventions for avoiding poverty, death, loss, old age, fear and pain. By definition, we can not experience periods of wealth, life, gain, youth, freedom and pleasure without the capacity to be vulnerable.

    Forever is a very long time. Our expectations that the objects of our care and affection will last forever may be unfair to ourselves. We always have free Fair Use of the images of objects in our care. This is their gift to us. In the Healing Garden is a square dedicated to Healing Lost Animals. And a square for Healing Creatures Who Suffer Alone. In the Healing Garden Memory Palace every life has a story all its own. – The Healing Garden gardener


  6. While sad, it is all in the realm of nature. You lost a duck, but the creature who ate it gained a few more days from the food.


  7. Now and again I have had trouble with airborne predators. Hawks by day and owls by night. I keep my birds penned at night to protect them from the owls, and the night stalking four legged critters. However, I don’t keep them locked up during the day unless I am going to be away for hours.

    The way I see it, is: “Hawks gotta eat.” It sounds harsh, but they don’t come around often, and for me, here at least, they are few and far between. There once was a hawk that stuck around for awhile, so I then penned everyone up for a month and he moved on. That was over two years ago.

    It is a tough call, but we seem to have found a balance here.


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