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Where did our duck eggs go!?  RSS feed

 
Adam King
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Before I begin I must state that my terminology on this topic is not great so bare with me and by all means please correct me! So on one of our two lakes we have a duck house (See attachment) held in the centre by a rope from each bank, so we stuffed some hay into into each of the 3 compartments and not expecting any great results we cast the house and let it be for a few weeks. However around 3-4 weeks ago we witnessed what i think was 2 mallards and a brown duck (Which I'm assuming was the female) fighting. We thought this was the two male duck fighting over the female duck, so we left them to it and a few days later, low and behold, we had a duck sitting in one of the compartments! As we're not the most knowledgeable on keeping and caring for ducks we just let them be assuming nature will work its way. 2-3 weeks passed and we would, from the bank, peer into the house to see if she was still sitting on her eggs, she would come out the house once or twice a day for whatever reason and during this period we peered, again from the bank, into the house, we either saw three or four eggs in the house. So she had been on her eggs for quite a while now and we assumed that they would hatch come the next week or maybe two, however earlier today, as usual, we checked and sure she was still sitting there, but then what must have been only 4-5 hours later we checked again and she and the eggs were gone! Absolutely no sign of her or the eggs! We took the boat out and checked out the house where she had just been, I looked inside and there was absolutely nothing there, I gently felt around for anything but all I could feel were the imprints of where the eggs had been and a few feathers which I assume she had put for warmth? There was no sign of any form of disruption such as messed up hay or other feathers! I'm completely perplexed as to where they could have gotten, no broken shells, water surrounding the whole house, no torque rope for something to climb across and hardly any space on the edge for another bird to land on...? Please help me find a possible reason for the total absence of eggs or ducklings in the house!? Have the eggs hatched and the mother disposed of the shells... but then there'd be less than a day old ducklings wondering about...? I am totally stumped on this, please help!
Kind regards,
Adam

Just to add, I live in the East of the UK if that helps at all
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The duck house!
 
Marissa Creston
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Location: Flathead, Montana
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A snake perhaps? They often swallow the eggs whole and some of them swim quite well.
 
Adam King
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Marissa Creston wrote:A snake perhaps? They often swallow the eggs whole and some of them swim quite well.

I thought this at one point, but how large would this snake have to be to eat at least 3 eggs, as well as this the house has quite a large lip for a snake to have to climb up and over to get the eggs and would they attempt this during the middle of the day!? Also surely they would cause some disturbance of the hay? Still so confused!
 
Charli Wilson
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Awfully rare to get snakes in the UK, unless you're talking about exotic pet escapees and I'd have thought it would still be too cold for them.

Rats? They're good swimmers but I'd have expected you would find eggshells and things (and one rat wouldn't have eaten the lot!).

I think anything larger (fox or dog) you would see evidence. And anything that can fly (buzzard or whatever) wouldn't have taken the eggs as well.
 
Marissa Creston
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Quite the mystery. Do you or your neighbors have any children? I could see an impetuous one absconding with those eggs on a dare!
 
Adam King
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Charli Wilson wrote:Awfully rare to get snakes in the UK, unless you're talking about exotic pet escapees and I'd have thought it would still be too cold for them.

Rats? They're good swimmers but I'd have expected you would find eggshells and things (and one rat wouldn't have eaten the lot!).

I think anything larger (fox or dog) you would see evidence. And anything that can fly (buzzard or whatever) wouldn't have taken the eggs as well.

So if it isn't any of that lot what on Earth could it be!? The only theory I have at the moment is that the mother got bored or something of that nature so rolled the eggs into the lake, but do ducks do that? and why would they!?
 
Adam King
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Marissa Creston wrote:Quite the mystery. Do you or your neighbours have any children? I could see an impetuous one absconding with those eggs on a dare!

Good idea my friend but that would definitely not be the case, the house is essentially a few steps from the house and family and I were wondering about all day so there's no chance a little one could've got the eggs, also they would have had to either got a boat and rowed to the house, which there was no boat present this particular day or swam, and with the current condition of the lake there's no way somebody could have swam it, let alone without making noise. Furthermore from what I know there aren't any young ones around that would do such a thing, and also the eggs were not in sight and we didn't tell too many people either? Still stumped unfortunately but thanks for the suggestion, keep them coming! 
 
Hester Winterbourne
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Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b)
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Mink?

Although the most obvious answer is that the eggs hatched and she took them off somewhere else - is there another pond or river nearby?  Not sure about the shells though.
 
Adam King
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:Mink?

Although the most obvious answer is that the eggs hatched and she took them off somewhere else - is there another pond or river nearby?  Not sure about the shells though.

Maybe yes, there is another larger lake less than 20m or so away, however we would have easily been able to see them wondering about surely, the chicks would be only 4-6 hours old at this moment so would they be able swim as well as walk to the other lake? And as you said, what about the shells?
 
Marissa Creston
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The only theory I have at the moment is that the mother got bored or something of that nature so rolled the eggs into the lake, but do ducks do that? and why would they!?


Actually, ducks will inspect their eggs and roll any rotting ones out of the nest to keep them from bursting and contaminating the rest of the clutch. So that could certainly be a possibility.
 
Adam King
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Marissa Creston wrote:
The only theory I have at the moment is that the mother got bored or something of that nature so rolled the eggs into the lake, but do ducks do that? and why would they!?


Actually, ducks will inspect their eggs and roll any rotting ones out of the nest to keep them from bursting and contaminating the rest of the clutch. So that could certainly be a possibility.

Oh right okay, but would all 3 maybe 4 eggs be rotten at the same time?
 
Marissa Creston
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It is quite possible that none of the eggs were fertile. It actually wouldn't surprise me given the size of the clutch; most ducks won't set until they have at least eight or so, but an older bird might not produce enough eggs to fill out a clutch. And two or three weeks is plenty of time for them to go noticeably off. I have never had a duck roll out more than one or two at a time. But that doesn't mean that yours didn't push them all out. Hard to know. A pity regardless. Toward better luck next time!
 
Adam King
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Marissa Creston wrote:It is quite possible that none of the eggs were fertile. It actually wouldn't surprise me given the size of the clutch; most ducks won't set until they have at least eight or so, but an older bird might not produce enough eggs to fill out a clutch. And two or three weeks is plenty of time for them to go noticeably off. I have never had a duck roll out more than one or two at a time. But that doesn't mean that yours didn't push them all out. Hard to know. A pity regardless. Toward better luck next time!

Thank you for that, by the looks of it that's the only reasonable explanation at the moment! It's a great shame that that might've happened but hey ho, its nature, hopefully there'll be some new eggs appearing soon!
 
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