What to Feed Wild Ducks?

As a kid, we regularly got rid of stale bread by taking it down to the pond and feeding the ducks. Unfortunately, it is really bad to feed ducks, geese, swans, and other waterfowl bread. Beyond the harm it causes the birds, it also pollutes the environment. Heres what to feed ducks instead of bread, and these alternatives are much healthier for both your feathered friends and the planet.

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Should I feed wild ducks?

Allowing ducks and geese to find their own wild, nutritionally balanced diet is best – for the health of waterfowl and the surrounding environment. For those who would like to slowly stop feeding waterfowl: the least problematic foods mimic the waterfowl’s natural diet – greens and insects.

What should you feed ducks instead of bread?

Halved grapes (be sure to cut them in half to prevent choking).Cracked corn..Thawed frozen peas..Barley..Oats..Birdseed..Duck pellets.

If you ask most birders when they had their first personal interaction with a wild bird, many would likely say it was when they fed the ducks at a local park or pond as a child. Many conservationists and city officials debate whether feeding wild birds is a good idea or not. Despite this difference of opinion, if you feel the inclination to pass along some treats to ducks or geese, it helps to know what foods are healthy choices.

In reality, they are capable of fending for themselves, finding their food in the wild, and do not require human handouts to survive, no matter the season or how much they beg for treats. One thing the experts all agree on is that too much feeding is unhealthy and can create excess waste and pollution that can destroy habitats and harm birds and other wildlife.

Birders also agree if you must give ducks or any other wild birds a treatand no posted notices or local ordinances discourage the practicethen nutritious treats are the best choice to offer. Some people may feed ducks their leftover stale or moldy bread, which should never be fed to the birds: Several types of mold can be fatal to waterfowl. Cracked corn Wheat, barley, or similar grains Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick) Rice (plain white or brown, cooked or uncooked, whole or instant) Milo seed Birdseed (any type or mix) Grapes (cut in half or quartered if very large) Nut hearts or pieces (any type but without salt, coatings, or flavoring) Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook) Earthworms (fishing bait or dug from the garden) Mealworms (fresh or dried) Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped into small pieces)

Avoid feeding the ducks if other visitors are already offering treats: Too much food can lead to health problems and uneaten leftovers. Litter can hurt birds and the environment; dispose of all trash properly, including bags, twist ties, plastic clips, and any unsuitable or moldy scraps.

Heading to the park to feed the ducks is a very old and popular family pastime; its a fun, free activity and a great way for parents and children to see and appreciate wildlife and nature.

If everyone visiting a park only gives a few pieces of bread or crackers to ducks and geese, it quickly becomes the bulk of what wild waterfowl consume, and results in a variety of nutritional disorders. Birds with MBD have incredibly soft bones and joints that are often malformed and fractured; these injuries are caused by an overall calcium deficiency in the body, which is linked to an inappropriate diet.

Another common issue with ducks and geese in public parks is angel wing — a condition where the ends of an affected birds flight feathers are twisted upward. The intense competition for poor quality food combined with other stressful interactions often cause the ducks and geese to have suppressed immune systems, which reduces their ability to resist infection. In public settings where waterfowl are fed artificial diets, these birds often lose this fear and are more likely to be consumed by predators (feral cats, dogs, foxes, raccoons, etc).

But the bottom line is that wild ducks and geese should be able to find plenty of food on their own so if you can resist the temptation to feed, simply pack your binoculars and camera and enjoy watching the birds.

If youre looking for outdoor activity ideas to encourage your children to love animals you cant go far wrong with feeding wild ducks at your local lake or park.

when No Bread-Feeding signs appeared on the bank of a local lake and the visitor centre started selling wild bird seed in paper bags . Bread offers poor nutrition to birds, it can reduce their natural behaviour and creates water pollution.

Bread, particularly white bread, offers unbalanced nutrition and insufficient calories in winter It may make birds feel full when they havent actually eaten enough causing malnourishmen t It may affect their behaviour, reducing natural foraging for the right food Overfeeding can result in rotten bread creating bacteria and algae that pollute the water, poisoning birds and aquatic life If your local park doesnt sell seed, what can ducks eat safely instead of bread? Sweetcorn , tinned, fresh or frozen (defrosted first) Lettuce , ripped up Frozen peas , defrosted Oats , flapjacks and instant porridge oats Seeds from the pet shop or supermarket Rice , cooked or uncooked QuackSnacks responsible, convenient wild duck pellets

NB Seeds dont always float so scatter on the ground or in shallow water within swans reach. For more information download their duck guide and see links at the bottom of the page on what food to buy. I recently discovered them through The Canal and River Trust and love their child-sized packs of wild duck pellets, delivered direct to your door.

QuackSnacks provide balanced nutrition combining wheat, maize, soya, fish meal, vegetable oil, vitamins & minerals which ducks and geese seem to love. Their new packets are made from 100% recyclable pure pine wood cellulose (similar to greaseproof paper) with cardboard delivery boxes using a 60% bio-based packing tape. For up to date outdoor activity ideas dont forget to follow us on Facebook , Instagram,Twitter , and sign up to the website to receive the latest posts to your inbox.

Can You Feed Ducks Bread?

No, bread is bad for ducks! And you should also not feed ducks crackers, chips, donuts, or popcorn.Just like with humans, these food items offer little nutritional value to birds. Feeding waterfowl these products can lead to malnutrition, disease, and weight gain. It also increases the bird’s dependency on humans and reduces its ability to take care of itself in its natural environment.Bad, bad, bad!Bread has also been linked to a condition called angel wing syndrome that causes a deformity in the bird’s wings, reducing its ability to fly and increasing its vulnerability to attack or other injuries.

So What Can Ducks Eat?

Instead of bread, ducks should eat fruits, vegetables, and grains. It’s also safe to feed ducks specially formulated pellets and to let them forage for their own worms and bugs. Below is a more detailed list of foods that are safe to feed ducks.

What to Feed Ducks Instead of Bread

Here are 10 healthier, more environmentally-friendly foods to feed ducks:

Birdseed

Whether it includes millet, sunflower seeds, or another mix, any type of birdseed is safe to feed ducks instead of bread.

Duck Feed Pellets

Specially formulated for ducks, duck feed pellets are commonly fed to ducks that are raised for their eggs and meat. These duck feed pellets float for over an hour reducing the waste that sinks into the water.

Corn

You can feed ducks fresh or dried corn. Fresh corn can be defrosted frozen corn or freshly cut from a cob. When it comes to dried corn kernels, be sure to coarsely grind dried corn kernels before you feed ducks cracked corn. By breaking the dried corn kernels into smaller pieces, it’s easier for the ducks to eat.

Oats and Similar Grains

Whether its steel-cut, rolled, or quick, uncooked oats are a better alternative to bread to feed ducks. You can also feed ducks wheat, barley, and similar grains.

Grapes

Be sure to cut grapes in half- or quarter-size pieces so that they are easier for the duck to eat.

Berries

Ducks enjoy a wide range of berries including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.

Melon

From cantaloupe to honey dew to watermelon, ducks, geese, and other waterfowl love melon.

Stone Fruit

Fruit with a large seed (or stone) at the center — like cherries, plums, peaches, and apricots are all fine to feed the ducks. However, it’s best to remove the stone first.

Other Fruit Safe for Ducks

Ducks also enjoy apples, pears, and bananas. However, you should avoid feeding ducks mangoes and citrus (like lemons, limes, and oranges).

Peas

Both defrosted frozen peas and fresh peas are safe to feed ducks and other waterfowl.

Vegetable Scraps

Instead of throwing vegetable scraps in the trash or grinding them up in your garbage disposal, save them to feed the ducks. Ducks enjoy carrot and cucumber peelings, radish tops, and lettuce trimmings. Just be sure to chop the vegetable scraps into small pieces before feeding the ducks.

Worms

From mealworms to earthworms, you can feed ducks worms. However, ducks should be actively seeking natural food sources and should be able to find worms on their own.

Can You Feed Ducks Bananas?

Yes, like most fruits, bananas are safe to feed ducks.

Can Ducks Eat Chicken Feed?

It’s fine to feed ducks chicken feed. But ducks, and especially ducklings, need more niacin in their diets than chicken feed provides. Ensure ducks get the niacin they need by sprinkling nutritional yeast on their chicken feed and offering niacin-rich foods like peas, raw or cooked sweet potatoes, and pumpkin.

Can Ducks Eat Corn?

Yes, it is safe to feed ducks dried cracked corn, fresh corn cut from the cob, and defrosted frozen corn kernels.

Can Ducks Eat Crackers?

No! Like bread, crackers and other processed grains with little nutritional value are bad for ducks.

Can Ducks Eat Cucumbers?

Yes! Ducks, geese, swans, and other waterfowl enjoy a wide variety of vegetables and vegetable scraps. Whether you feed the ducks cucumber peelings or pieces of cucumber, be sure to chop them into small pieces first.

Is it OK to Feed Ducks Peas?

Yes! Like corn, ducks can eat both fresh and frozen defrosted peas.

Do Ducks Eat Lettuce?

Ducks enjoy a wide range of vegetables, including lettuce and other leafy vegetables. But just as you should limit the amount of iceberg lettuce you consume (due to its limited nutritional value), the same is true for ducks. Feed ducks romaine lettuce, red or green leaf lettuce, or chard instead.

Can Ducks Eat Millet?

Millet is a cereal crop similar to barley, rice, and wheat. This starchy grain is grown for human food as well as animal feed. And like other grains, millet is safe to feed ducks.

Can Ducks Eat Peanuts?

Peanuts are safe for ducks to eat, but they should be offered sparingly. And like dried corn, it’s best to roughly chop the peanuts before feeding them to ducks.

Can Ducks Eat Popcorn?

No! While it’s safe to feed ducks fresh, dried, or defrosted corn kernels, it is not safe to feed ducks popcorn.

Can Ducks Eat Potato Chips?

No! Potato chips are on the list of empty calorie no nos like bread and crackers. Do not feed potato chips to ducks.

Can Ducks Eat Potato Skins?

While ducks enjoy eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables, you should avoid feeding ducks potato skins. Potatoes are part of the nightshade family and toxic to ducks. In addition to potato skins, do not feed ducks tomatoes, eggplants, or bell peppers as these plants are also nightshades.

Can Ducks Eat Radishes?

Yes, like cucumber peelings and cucumber pieces, ducks can eat radish tops and diced radishes.

Can You Feed Ducks Rice?

Yes, it is safe to feed ducks rice, either cooked or uncooked.

Can Ducks Eat Rice Cakes?

While rice cakes are made from rice (which is safe to feed ducks), they also include ingredients like sugar, fructose, and other ingredients that are not good for ducks. So stick to rice rather than rice cakes when feeding the ducks.

Can Ducks Eat Steel Cut Oats?

Yes! Similar to millet, rice, and other cereal crops, oats are safe to feed ducks. Sprinkle quick, rolled, or steel-cut oats out for ducks.

What Fruits are Safe for Ducks?

From berries to stone fruits to melons, most fruit is safe to feed ducks. Even bananas! Just be sure to remove the stones, seeds, and core before feeding fruit to ducks. And, you should never feed ducks mangoes, lemons, limes, oranges, or other citrus fruits.

Debate About Feeding Wild Birds

The issue of whether it is all right to feed ducks, geese, swans, and other waterfowl is a topic of controversy among bird enthusiasts, conservationists, and park officials. There are many myths about feeding wild birds: Some believe that feeding the birds will stop their migration. Whether they are hand-fed or not, some waterfowl species are already non-migrating birds that live in city parks and similar bird habitats.Some people believe the misconception that waterfowl do not have their natural foods at hand in the parks and urban ponds. In reality, they are capable of fending for themselves, finding their food in the wild, and do not require human handouts to survive, no matter the season or how much they beg for treats.One thing the experts all agree on is that too much feeding is unhealthy and can create excess waste and pollution that can destroy habitats and harm birds and other wildlife. Also, leftover, uneaten food can attract rodents, create unpleasant odors, and spread diseases. Some birds that are fed too often can become aggressive, and may become a nuisance if they overpopulate a small area.Birders also agree if you must give ducks or any other wild birds a treat—and no posted notices or local ordinances discourage the practice—then nutritious treats are the best choice to offer.

Duck Food to Avoid

The most common items people feed to ducks and waterfowl are often the least nutritious and most unhealthy. Bread, chips, crackers, donuts, cereal, popcorn, and similar bread-type products or junk food scraps are not the right foods for birds.Feeding ducks bread is bad because the food has little nutritional value and can harm ducklings’ growth. The uneaten remnants often pollute waterways and attract vermin and other pests. Some people may feed ducks their leftover stale or moldy bread, which should never be fed to the birds: Several types of mold can be fatal to waterfowl.

Nutritional Consequences

Wild ducks and geese feed on a variety of grains and grasses, aquatic plants, and invertebrates, all naturally found in the wild. When eaten in combination, these foods are nutritionally balanced and provide everything a wild duck or goose needs to survive.In contrast, foods commonly fed to waterfowl in public parks, such as bread, crackers, popcorn, and corn, are typically low in protein and essential nutrients and minerals (such as calcium and phosphorus). While a single feeding of these “junk foods” may not harm waterfowl, it adds up! If everyone visiting a park “only” gives a few pieces of bread or crackers to ducks and geese, it quickly becomes the bulk of what wild waterfowl consume, and results in a variety of nutritional disorders.Waterfowl in public parks are often admitted to wildlife rehabilitation centers with metabolic bone disease (MBD). Birds with MBD have incredibly soft bones and joints that are often malformed and fractured; these injuries are caused by an overall calcium deficiency in the body, which is linked to an inappropriate diet. Calcium also plays a crucial role in the formation of eggs/offspring, clotting ability, cardiovascular and neuromuscular function, and a variety of other metabolic activities. Birds with MBD are often so malformed they cannot fly and become dependent on handouts, completing a vicious cycle. Affected birds are typically too weak to compete for food and defend themselves and are often the victims of aggressive attacks by other ducks and geese.Another common issue with ducks and geese in public parks is “angel wing” — a condition where the ends of an affected bird’s flight feathers are twisted upward. “Angel wing” occurs when ducks and geese grow abnormally quickly; the affected birds’ joints don’t fully form as the wing and feathers develop and the weight of the growing feathers rotates the tip of the bird’s wing. If caught in initial stages, waterfowl suffering from this condition may be treated with splints to guide bone growth in the correct position. Although there are several theories regarding the causes of “angel wing”, some studies suggest that diets high in protein may be to blame. Well-meaning citizens feeding commercial duck, chicken, or turkey feed to avoid the “junk food” may be unintentionally creating this disorder.One more problem with bread products is that this type of food expands in water — and the stomach — which gives ducks and geese an artificial feeling that they are full. As a result, these birds may not feel motivated to continue foraging on natural foods of higher nutritional value.

Overcrowding & Disease

In the wild, a particular lake or pond habitat can sustain a certain number of ducks and/or geese – there is a maximum number of individuals that can successfully reside there indefinitely, with enough food, water, and shelter. This “carrying capacity” of the habitat can be artificially increased when supplemental food is added.While extra food may appear to be a good thing, it may lead to an expanded waterfowl population beyond the carrying capacity of the habitat. Without increasing space and other resources, ducks and geese can become stressed and overcrowded. Increased numbers of animals leads to increased competition for food; weaker birds in these environments often sustain severe injuries from more dominant birds. During the spring breeding season, gangs of male ducks physically attack each other to get access to female ducks. This not only leads to plucked featherless areas and skin lacerations, but females often drown as they cannot escape the driven males. Females that manage to escape the male ducks often nest up to a mile away from the water. This abnormal nesting behavior may put them at risk of urban predators, vehicle collisions, and perils not associated with nesting in natural areas.Overcrowded habitats also are prime territories for disease outbreaks; there have been numerous outbreaks of botulism, avian cholera, duck plague (duck enteritis virus), and aspergillosis (fungal infection) in city duck ponds where supplemental feeding is a regular activity. The intense competition for poor quality food combined with other stressful interactions often cause the ducks and geese to have suppressed immune systems, which reduces their ability to resist infection.For areas with high volumes of supplemental feeding, it’s also quite common for the unconsumed, leftover food to attract scavengers, including raccoons, opossums, and rats. Dense populations of these scavengers bring the potential for further disease outbreak, including zoonotic diseases that are transmissible to humans.

Habitat Degradation

There are also environmental issues related to artificially increasing the number of ducks and geese in a given area. Large numbers of waterfowl in a small area can seriously impact the surrounding environment.Feces generated by overcrowded waterfowl result in increased deposition of carbon, phosphorus, and nitrogen in the water and surrounding grasslands. The addition of these nutrients to water (a process known as eutrophication) promotes excessive algae growth, leading to decreased oxygen levels, foul-smelling green and cloudy water, fish kills, and an overall decrease in water quality. Some common algae species (blue-green algae) even produce toxins associated with illness in wildlife, humans, and pets.Certain species of waterfowl may also be destructive to the environment, due to their natural foraging strategies. Canada geese graze on grass and other low-growing plants and, when in large flocks, often destroy lawns and gardens surrounding city ponds. If these birds cannot find enough food, they often migrate short distances to golf courses, sports fields, and other grassy public areas yet still use the public park as a “home base”. Increased waterfowl populations can also lead to erosion of shorelines and a general negative public opinion of ducks and geese.

Habituation

In the wild, a healthy fear of humans and other potential predators allows ducks and geese to survive and reproduce. In public settings where waterfowl are fed artificial diets, these birds often lose this fear and are more likely to be consumed by predators (feral cats, dogs, foxes, raccoons, etc). Urban waterfowl may also be more likely to be hit by vehicles, entangled in litter, and maliciously harmed by humans. Habituated geese can pose a significant public health threat at certain times of the year if they are defending a nesting female or a brood of goslings. These habituated geese have the ability to seriously hurt humans, particularly children.

What You Can Do

Allowing ducks and geese to find their own wild, nutritionally balanced diet is best – for the health of waterfowl and the surrounding environment.For those who would like to slowly stop feeding waterfowl: the least problematic foods mimic the waterfowl’s natural diet – greens and insects. Chopped up greens [kale, collards, dandelions (only from pesticide-free yards)] are more nutritious than any junk food, including corn. Ducks and geese eat insects too — so a special treat of mealworms or freeze-dried crickets would also likely be enjoyed! But the bottom line is that wild ducks and geese should be able to find plenty of food on their own – so if you can resist the temptation to feed, simply pack your binoculars and camera and enjoy watching the birds.

What do wild ducks eat?

In the wild the natural diet of ducks and geese is

Is bread really bad for ducks?

I first learnt that bread can be bad for ducks and geese in 2011 (Caroline was under two!) when ‘No Bread-Feeding’ signs appeared on the bank of a local lake and the visitor centre started sellingIt seemed like a money-making ploy on behalf of the park but in fact proved to be a worthyThe sign explains all.Too much bread really is bad for ducks, geese, swans, watercourses and all wild birds.

What to feed ducks responsibly

Bread offers poor nutrition to birds, it can reduce their natural behaviour and creates water pollution.Read on to find out what to feed ducks instead of bread. It turns out that there are lots of things that are much better for them.

Try environmentally friendly QuackSnacks

Another great option is Quacksnacks. I recently discovered them through The Canal and River Trust and love their child-sized packs of wild duck pellets, delivered direct to your door.QuackSnacks provide balanced nutrition combining wheat, maize, soya, fish meal, vegetable oil, vitamins & minerals which ducks and geese seem to love.

More inspiration

Even better, Quacksnacks are attempting to reduce plastic waste with new packaging. Kids of the Wild got to try them out first!Their new packets are made from 100% recyclable pure pine wood cellulose (similar to greaseproof paper) with cardboard delivery boxes using a 60% bio-based packing tape.We water-and-duck-tested the pellets with wild kids of all ages and the conclusion is:-Try Quacksnacks or any of the other food options above but whatever you do,