Duck Ostracism

Muscovy DuckLast night, when we put the ducks in their coop, we heard a commotion inside. We peeked in and saw Pru pulling on Phoebe’s feathers and generally being aggressive toward her. We tried to distract Pru, but she was determined to pick on Phoebe.

Hoping to facilitate an attitude adjustment, we removed Pru from the coop (neither fun nor easy – they have sharp claws and strong wings) and placed her in a rabbit cage, which we then put in the chicken coop. The chickens were not pleased. We could hear the hens complaining about the intruder from a distance away.

The duck coop was quiet. None of the other ducks bother Phoebe (or anyone else). Coraline even hangs out with her sometimes. It seemed that Pru was the cause of the conflict.

When we released her this morning, Pru ran back to the duck coop. We knew she probably needed to lay an egg, so we opened the door up and closed the perimeter fence to keep the chickens out (the chickens will go into the duck coop and literally scratch the straw bedding out the door into the run). When we went out later to let her out of the run, we found that she had laid a large, cream-colored egg.

While Pru seemed less interested in pursuing Phoebe today, Phoebe was clearly avoiding her and spending a lot of time alone. When they went into the coop, Phoebe tried to run back out to escape Pru. Once everyone was closed in, we could hear the telltale sounds of Phoebe being picked on by Pru: most of the time, the ducks only trill or hiss; we were hearing distressed honking, likely from Pru pulling Phoebe’s feathers.

Rather than intervene tonight, we decided that Phoebe and Pru have to work out their issues. Maybe Phoebe will get fed up, and like Ralphie in the holiday movie we all know, beat the tar out of the bully. Then again, maybe Pru will tire of harassing Phoebe. We’ll find out…

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