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Location: Florida

It may be hard to say what actually happened. Please give me some expert theories of what may have happened.

I had a mallard sitting on her 10+ eggs in my yard. I have been watching her carefully from my window for past 3-4 weeks since I first noticed her (she may have been there longer). There was a bad storm and tornado warning last night pre-dusk. I did see mommy carefully returning from the lake to her nest moments before the storm. This morning I saw mommy was gone, and eggs were all open, one actually smashed and many with patches of blood inside them. What may have happened? Could the hatchlings may have left on foot or someone ate them?

Here are the photos

Eggs 5 days ago Eggs  5 days ago

Here are the two pictures of them this morning Picture taken with nothing touched

Reorganized shells to get a better shot

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Not knowing exactly in the world where you are makes it a little difficult to give an exact answer. I'm guessing North America based on the presence of the seedling Acer growing next to the nest.

The bloody bits are the remains of fertilized eggs - the blood supply for the growing embryo.

Based on the damage the most likely scenario is that something ate them. What exactly ate them is difficult to say. There are a few animals that will happily eat eggs - rats, cats, hedgehogs, dogs, and a range of others too

Based on the damage and completeness of destruction I think the most likely is a family of predators that will happily eat eggs (and ducklings and mature ducks too if they can get them) and that is the Mustelid family. The Mustelids include things like ferrets, mink, badgers, otters and stoats. All of these are known to prey on eggs, particularly the smaller members of the family like mink, ferrets, and stoats. They are also known for wanton violence - killing all the hens inside a chicken coop for example, even if that is much more than they can eat or carry away.

I'm sorry to say there's not much you can do to keep these out unless you have a strong fence with only small gaps in between the boards - the Mustelids can dig and climb fairly well and are very intelligent, so keeping them out is difficult.

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  • Location Florida – fahadash Apr 1 '20 at 21:09

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