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What Do Ducks Eat: What Do These Birds Need To Be Healthy?

Ducks are pretty distinctive birds, easy to notice across various waterways all around the globe. They are part of the Anatidae family along with numerous other species of waterfowl like swans.

While ducks are famous for being friendly and sociable birds, many people do not know much about their diets. If you feed ducks in the park or you raise them in your backyard, it is essential to understand their diet. Join us to find some interesting information about ducks’ favorite foods, as well as the do’s and don’ts when it comes to feeding them.

Essential Information About Ducks

Essential Information About Ducks

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Ducks are gregarious and friendly birds that hang out in large groups. These feathered animals are omnivores, so most of their favorite foods are available in their aquatic habitat. Ducks will consume different types of aquatic plants, but also fish eggs, mollusks, small fish, amphibians and small crustaceans.

Now, it’s no secret that these birds love to dunk their heads below water. The reason why they do it is to catch prey and sift for vegetation, like aquatic insects or algae.

Regarding their “feeding features,” ducks have a flat, spatula-shaped bill which is ideal for efficiently stripping  aquatic foliage. Furthermore, the bills have a soft serrated edge that allows them to sift their food from mud and water.

So, What Do Ducks Eat?

Ducks will eat whatever they catch, but at the top of their preference list are pondweed, insects, seeds, and worms.

Ducks characteristically sink their heads into the water and search for food in the upper layers of water or dive down to search through the sediment at the bottom of a waterbody. Although it might seem odd to us, this is their natural way of feeding. Just like that, ducks obtain a diverse diet and well-balanced nutrition.

A Duck’s Diet In The Wild

Ducks forage mostly within their aquatic habitats. They will also consume different types of foliage they can find on the land. Some of their top picks when they are on dry land are flowers, reeds, as well as seeds, grain, or berries.

As for meat and insects, ducks don’t pass the chance to eat all kinds of aquatic insects, beetles, snails, small fish, fish eggs, mollusks, frogspawn, tadpoles, and amphibians.

A Baby Duck’s Diet

Baby ducks, also known as ducklings, have pretty much the same diet as adult ducks. However, they will tend to go for softer types of food, such as worms, aquatic plants, and algae, as well as small mollusks and crustaceans.

Baby ducks are born with the instinct for foraging food. They eat anything they can find based on their omnivorous diet. When they live in captivity, ducklings receive waterfowl food. Yet, to keep their innate instincts active, it is wise to let them search for food too.

Is Bread Okay For Ducks?

Commonly, people feed ducks with old, dry bread. How many of you have a tradition of taking the kids to the park and feeding ducks with bread leftovers?

Little do people know that bread is not that good for ducks. This is because bread is not exceptionally nutritious.

While bread itself is not poisonous or harmful to ducks, this does not mean it is healthy for birds. Actually, over time, ducks that eat bread on a regular basis become malnourished and overweight. They could even end up dealing with deformed wings.

More than that, if you give ducks moldy food, the birds can start feeling sick and weak. Worst of all, they can develop lung disease. Another consequence of throwing bread to ducks is attracting rats which can potentially spread all kinds of diseases.

According to specialists in this domain, feeding ducks with small amounts of bread is okay; however, you should avoid it as much as possible. Try not to feed ducks with any types of cereals, crackers, sweets, or moldy food.

How To Feed Ducks?

Children are the most enthusiastic about feeding ducks, especially when they go into the park. But adults should carefully supervise this process and encourage them to stay safe when getting close to the water’s edge or too close to the birds. It is also important to offer food in small pieces to ducks, otherwise there is ther risk they will choke or have difficulty swallowing the food.

Now that we clarified how to feed ducks, it’s time to move on to the best foods you can provide these feathered friends with:

Sweetcorn

Sweetcorn is by far one of the most popular food types for ducks. Choose whichever type of sweetcorn you wish: canned, frozen, or fresh. Just make sure you remove the sweetcorn from the tin first!

Frozen Peas

You don’t have to cook the peas; just defrost them before feeding the ducks.

Lettuce

While most of us tend to throw away lettuce leftovers, it is a pity not to use them and make some ducks happy. Instead of putting all the lettuce in the bin, rip it into small pieces and feed your favorite local ducks.

Choose whichever type of lettuce you wish; kale, iceberg, or rocket. All are excellent choices.

Seeds

Ducks love to eat seeds; it’s in their natural diet to consume grains. Buy a mix of seeds from the supermarket and spoil the ducks with a nutritious meal.

  • Oats

From instant porridge oats to rolled oats, these whole-grain cereals will be a great source of fibers for the ducks.

Rice

While this might be a surprise, ducks will appreciate a handful of leftover rice as a snack. You can also use some uncooked rice; ducks would love that too.

FAQ

Want to know more about duck food? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic.

Q: What are ducks’ favorite foods during the wintertime?

A: A duck’s diet during the winter is quite the same as in summer. Ducks will eat whatever they find on the land or water. To get all the fat and protein they need, ducks will look for small invertebrates and insects to survive during the cold days.

Moreover, ducks will also consume all kinds of nutrient-rich foliage from the land and water.

Q: Do ducks eat fish?

A: Ducks are not necessarily fish hunters. However, they enjoy eating small amounts of fish sometimes. Ducks will dip their heads into the water just below the surface and wait for small creatures to appear, including fish. Most of these types of fishes they eat are tiny, and can be almost microscopic.

Q: Do ducks eat frogs?

A: Ducks would rarely eat adult frogs. However, they would undoubtedly look for froglets. Tadpoles are  the ideal food for ducks, as they are relatively easy to find in shallow waters. Ducks can scoop them up and swallow them easily.

Q: Do ducks eat ticks?

A: Yes, ducks enjoy eating ticks. Because of that, poultry farmers use ducks to aid farmyard tick control.

Q: Do ducks enjoy eating duckweed?

A: Also known as Lemna, this is an aquatic plant on the surface of lakes. It develops, especially among  slow-moving waters. Ducks enjoy eating duckweed, as the name suggests. The reason for that is because they can scoop it up easily due to their spatula-like bill.

These animals love duckweed because they can find other small insects and larvae among the free-floating plants.

Q: Do ducks have gizzards?

A: Yes, ducks have gizzards, which are small organs, part of the digestive tract. Ducks usually consume small stones or grit that stay in their gizzards as gastroliths. Gizzards help the bird grind up and digest harder foods.

Q: Do ducks drink water?

A: Yes, ducks drink water, just like any other species of bird. Water is crucial for them and helps these birds maintain their good condition. In addition, ducks clean their eyes and nostrils using water. Ducks will drink up to 1 liter of water per day.

Summary

Ducks love to eat seeds, sweetcorn, rice, little fish, or froglets. Bread is not suitable for them, so people should choose other snacks when feeding them in parks.

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