WHAT NOT TO FEED DUCKS: The most common items fed to ducks and waterfowl are often the least nutritious and most unhealthy: bread, chips, crackers, popcorn and similar baked carbohydrate products and scraps as well as moldy foods. This human food has little nutritional value and can harm ducklings’ growth, pollute waterways, increase the spread of disease, attract rodents and other pests and in some cases cause death. This is junk food for ducks.
POOR DIETS CREATE MANY PROBLEMS FOR DUCKS: Not only can junk food lead to excessive weight making it harder for them to fly and otherwise evade predators, in areas where ducks are regularly fed a poor diet, ducklings will not learn to FORAGE for natural foods as easily. Also, where an easy food source is abundant, ducks and other wild birds will lay more eggs and the pond or lake will become overcrowded. OVERCROWDING AND FEEDING A BAKED CARBOHYDRATE RICH DIET leads to greater defecation, and bird feces easily harbor bacteria responsible for numerous diseases, including avian botulism. Second, certain molds can cause aspergillosis, a fatal lung infection that can decimate entire duck and wild bird flocks.
POOR DIETS FOR DUCKS CREATE PROBLEM FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: There is often pollution from both too many ducks defecating and the rotting of uneaten food which can create greater algae growth that can clog natural waterways. This concentrates the pollution and can eventually eradicate fish and other life in the vicinity. Rotten food also attracts rats and mice which harbor additional diseases that can be dangerous to humans.
Fortunately, there are many other types of food that can be offered to ducks, geese and swans as part of a healthy and nutritious diet.
Good Foods for Ducks:
Wild ducks and wild birds can live longer, healthier lives by relying on natural food sources such as aquatic plants, seeds, grasses and insects rather than taking handouts from well-meaning humans. If you still want to feed the ducks – and doing so can be an enchanting experience – there are many healthier alternatives.
The best foods for ducks are those that provide the nutrients, minerals and vitamins the are needed for healthy growth and development. Many of these foods are similar to the natural seeds, grains and plants the ducks will forage on their own. As OMNIVORES**, ducks will eat a great deal of different foods, and the best foods to offer ducks include:
- Cracked corn
- Wheat, barley or similar grains
- Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick)
- Birdseed (any type or mix)
- Grapes (cut in half)
- Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
- Mealworms (fresh or dried)
- Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
- Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped)
- Snails and slugs (no bait)
- Alfalfa Pellets
REMEMBER, it is important to not offer rotting or moldy foods. Think in terms of what these ducks might naturally forage for in the wild: fresh grasses, seeds, insects, slugs, fruits, grains, etc. Duck feed pellets or alfalfa pellets are another great option, and they can be purchased from farming or agricultural supply stores. Turkey feed is too high is protein so steer clear of this option.
**Describes a diet that includes both plants and animals. Omnivorous birds eat a wide range of things, including insects, fish, lizards, crustaceans and rodents (from animals) as well as seeds, grain, grasses, nectar and fruit (from plants). Omnivorous bird species often change their diet seasonally for whatever food sources are most readily available, such as eating insects in the spring and summer but switching to fruits or seeds in the fall and winter.
Information gathered from assorted web sources on what and what not to feed ducks and compiled by Alexandra Sanders aka the LadyWhoLovesBirds