An Egg Murder most Fowl – Where is Sherlock when you need him?

An Egg Murder has taken place. Can you help us find the culprit?

THE BACKGROUND:

We have free range ducks and chickens. We put them in their respective houses at night (actually the chickens put themselves to bed, the ducks take a little encouragement), and then let them out in the morning, where they then have free roam of the garden.

Yesterday I had collected eggs and left 3 eggs on the nest in the chicken house, 1 for each of the layers (2 chickens and a duck).  The nest is under the raised chicken coop, but completely enclosed except for the large chicken coop door (tall enough to almost walk through). I always leave an egg or two to encourage the layers to return to the nest – otherwise we have to search the garden for their latest spot.

THE EGG MURDER SCENE:

Today is a rainy day, so the chickens have been taking shelter in their usual spots as they wander the garden.  The ducks, well, they’re ducks.  I went down late this afternoon (4pm) to give them all a treat of some lettuce and was met by Lucy, one of our female ducks, having her 20 minutes off her nest she is sitting on, which is in the duck house. With me showing up, after a couple bites of lettuce she was straight back on. All seemed normal, until…

That’s when I noticed that there was a chicken egg broken on the ground just outside the shared fenced compound of the duck and chicken houses. Then, further in, closer to the chicken house, another broken chicken egg, and then in the chicken house the broken duck egg.

Exhibit A: Very large egg now with a large hole in it, no egg inside, laying 15 feet ish (2.5 mtrs) from the laying nest.

Exhibit B: Slightly smaller egg, broken, with various pieces of shell lying around, no egg inside, laying about 7 feet (1.5 mtrs) from the nest.

Exhibit B: Small blue duck egg, broken in half, no egg inside, 3 feet (1 mtr) from the nest.

The coop was locked up during the night and there was no sign of the broken eggs this morning when the birds were let out at 8:30am.  They normally lay, on a wet or cold day, later in the morning, anywhere between 10am – 12pm, taking it in turns.  As the broken/eaten eggs were the 3 left from the night before, the theft and eating had to have occurred before 10am, or essentially in broad daylight.

Neither the ducks nor Chickens put up a kaffuffle, indicating an intruder, which we are taking to mean the intruder definitely went for the eggs prior to laying time today, eg. shortly after the chickens and ducks were let out.

THE SUSPECTS:
Birds: Tawny owl, Hawk, Raven, Crow, Magpie and Jay (not blue) – all have been seen at some time around the garden (actually the owl lives in the garden).

Now this nest is out of site, behind a bale of straw. We do regularly get little birds (sparrow size) flying in to the coop, eating the seed, but have never seen a large bird go in there (though that of course does not mean they don’t) However, even from the feeder it is not possible to see the nest, you literally have to look up and over a lip behind the bale of straw.

Rats and Other Varmints:

We did have 2 rats who decided to make a home under the duck house (next door), which we captured and removed. And of note, whilst living there they did not eat any eggs – they preferred the feed.

We have also seen a very large rodent, possible water rat, not certain, swimming in the river that is beyond our garden. The river is 200 yards/mtrs away.

Snake:

We have a 1 metre long garden snake, very shy, lives near the veg garden. His territory appears to be the hill between the two gardens and he has never been spotted outside of it.

Various Cute Furry Critters:

Dog: We do not own one (yet). The garden is completely fenced, so (generally) not possible for a dog to get in.

Fox: We do have foxes about. They do occasionally come in the garden as they are small enough to get under the fence in places.

Hedgehog: We have seen the odd hedgehog now and then in the garden, though generally the upper garden.

Deer: We have had the odd deer bound the fence and get in (no evidence of deer droppings, or any droppings at all at this time.)

Squirrels: We have 4 red squirrels that live in the garden at this time (2 adults, 2 almost adults)

For American readers, Possum, Raccoon, Skunk… we don’t have in France. We have though seen signs of Badgers by the river.

So… WHO DID IT?

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  1. J’accuse: The Magpie / or Raven.

    MO is typical of an underhand conniving winged beast. Rat/dog would eat in situ, and wouldn’t pierce the shell, just smash it. And then there’s the curious incident of the Cock in the nightime.

    “What curious incident?” says Watson

    “Precisely”, said Sherlock, “There wasn’t one.”

    So, it was a daytime predator that pierces eggs.. A beast that has his tentrils through all that is criminal in the garden. A beast that observes, while being hidden. A beast whose black cunning is matched only by his vast intelligence. The Napoleon of garden crime: The Raven, or his winged henchmen the Magpies.

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