What to Feed Wild Ducks

Most of us know that we should not be feeding bread or other kitchen castoffs to local waterfowl but many of us also enjoy feeding the ducks and geese when we run into them. Our feathered friends can be difficult to resist.

When you live in a community which has an abundance of local waterfowl like I do it is almost common practice to see ducks and geese when you are at the local lake or beach.

Most of the birds in my neighborhood are pretty used to people and the ducks will come running to see if you have food for them to eat. Which of course brings up the question: What the heck do you feed the ducks?

Bread, popcorn, crackers, and and other human foods of this nature have very little nutritional value to offer ducks, geese, or other wild birds. 

When we feed these items to birds we deprive them of eating healthier food alternatives. So to find out what wild ducks usually eat check out the list below.

1) Insects or bugs.

2) Algae

3) Aquatic plants and roots 

4) Worms, tiny fish, fish eggs, snails, frogs, salamanders, and other available small protein sources.

5) Fruit, berries, seeds, grain, and small nuts.

6) Sand and small stones.

Ducks and Geese May Come for Food But it is up to You to Say No

If the ducks fill themselves up on bread then they are not eating the variety of foods that they should. This means that they are likely not getting the proper nutrition that they otherwise would. They are like little kids in a candy store.
So what can you feed the local waterfowl? If you really cannot resist bringing the ducks or geese something to eat then there are some healthier alternatives that you can feed them.

1) The very best food option is duck food pellets which are available at your local feed store.

2) Grains, wheat, barley, oats, bird feed, and cracked corn.

3) Sliced or halved grapes, finely chopped lettuce or other salad greens, defrosted frozen corn or peas.

4) Mealworms or earthworms.

Be bird friendly. Insure that any food you do provide is tiny enough for them to easily eat without choking and also try NOT to feed the waterfowl on a regular basis as this will encourage them not to forage for food as they naturally should.

Never overfeed the ducks and geese at your local pond as the leftovers will be left uneaten, can spoil, and this rot can cause disease. Keep in mind that you are likely not the only one bringing food. 

A natural diet helps waterfowl to maintain their wild lifestyle. The wild diet of your local area is actually the perfect diet for them. Ducks should normally be foraging in the ponds and local shrubbery for their food. Feeding waterfowl on a regular basis can be detrimental to their health.

A Young Female Managed to Corner us Away From the Crowd and was Hoping we had a Treat to Toss Into the Water for Her

In spring months it is important for the young ducks and geese to learn to forage on their own. Learning young how to fend for themselves increases their odds of survival in the long term.
The Ducks Unlimited Story
If food is handed out to waterfowl on a regular basis there is a greater likelihood of an overpopulation of birds gathering in a specific area. Food shortages are a natural occurrence and should be an indication to the birds that it is time to fly to where food is more plentiful. If food is plentiful then ducks, geese, and other wild birds are less likely to migrate when they should.
 
It Truly is Best to Allow Wild Birds to Continue to Live Wild

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