Pretty much every predator in the area likes duck. We get it. To foil the many animals that lurk in the darkness, we secure the ducks in their coop (or the chicken coop, if they’ve chosen to squat in there) at night. Every once in a while, though, a duck hides when we go to herd them into their coop, and she stays out all night long. Notably, we have never had a drake stay out after curfew…hmm…
We learned when we got our first ducks that a duck that stays out after dusk will be a predator’s meal. The Muscovy are strong-willed creatures that basically refuse to go into the coop until they’re made to do so (unlike the chickens, who go into their coop once it’s sufficiently dark out). It takes two people to wrangle them in – ducks and drakes head away in different directions, even though they know perfectly well what we want them to do. Am I ascribing a level of intelligence to them that’s unmerited? Um, no. We’ve worked with them for long enough to know that they know when it’s time to go in, but they still stay out, on principle.
As I approached the gate to feed the denizens this morning, a lone duck came walking toward me. My first feeling was relief that she survived a night outside the coop…luck or instinct, who knows? She was happy to see me (food bringer, after all) and immediately drank gratefully out of the newly-filled water pails. I snapped a picture of her to ensure we look for her at roundup tonight, but there are several ducks who look very similar, so it’s difficult to verify that every duck has gone in at night. Might be time to look into a barcode or RFID system…anyway, this is what happens when you have as many ducks as we do. Her coloring is great camouflage, especially in the low light we have when we’re rounding them up in the evening – sometimes, the ducks just sit still in a woodpile and you can’t even see them!
In any case, I’ll be keeping an eye out for this girl tonight, double-checking the barn and the woodpiles to ensure there are no fugitives hiding out there.