Ducks are pretty humble birds, easy to notice across various waterways all around the globe. They encompass numerous other species among the Anatidae family, including waterfowl, as well as swans.
While ducks are widely famous for being friendly and sociable birds, many people do not know much about their diets. If you casually feed ducks in the park or you raise them in your backyard, it is essential to understand their diet. Find interesting information about ducks’ favorite foods, as well as do’s and don’ts when it comes to feeding them.
Essential Information About Ducks
First of all, you should know that ducks are gregarious and friendly birds that hang out in large groups.
These leathered animals are omnivores, so most of their favorite foods are available in their aquatic habitat. As such, ducks will consume different types of aquatic plants, but also fish eggs, mollusks, small fish, amphibians or 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, like an insect or aquatic foliage.
Regarding their “feeding features,” ducks have this flat, spatula-shaped bill which is ideal and helpful in stripping the aquatic foliage. Furthermore, these animals have a soft serrated edge that allows them to press their food from mud and water.
So, What Do Ducks Eat?
Usually, ducks have a natural-based diet, just like other waterfowl species. They will eat whatever they catch, but on top of their preferences are pondweed, insects, seeds, or worms.
This being said, it’s no wonder ducks sink their heads into the water and take their food from the bottom of a lake. Although it might seem odd to us, this is their natural way of feeding. Just like that, ducks can have a diverse diet and well-balanced nutrition.
Ducks’ Diet Into The Wild
As you could probably already guess, ducks forage to seek their food and within their typically food-abundant aquatic habitats.
They will, however, usually consume different types of foliage they can find on the land and not just in water. 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, you already know from above that ducks don’t pass the chance to eat all kinds of aquatic insects, beetles, snails, small fish, fish eggs, mollusks, frogspawn, tadpoles, or amphibians.
Baby Ducks Diet
Baby ducks, also known as ducklings, have pretty the same diet as adult ducks. However, they will tend to go with softer types of food, such as worms, temperate aquatic plants, and algae, as well as small mollusks and crustaceans.
Baby ducks are born with the instinct of foraging for food. They eat anything they can find based on the 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 the next meal.
Food from the grass that ducks love
Although their first instinct is to forage for food in the water, ducks can graze on the grass too. The feathered animals eat the grass itself, as well as all types of insects they can find among blades of grass: worms, insects, snails, larvae. Their bills are versatile and have sharp edges for tearing light vegetation apart.
Is bread okay for ducks?
Commonly, people tend to feed ducks with old, dry bread. How many of you have this tradition of taking the kids into 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 the 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. And these are not all the downsides. Birds could 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. Yes, all leftover food will only attract rats and, 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. Moreover, 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.
As such, never let children go close to the birds or the water shore. They should learn to feed the ducks while they are on the land.
Now that we clarified how to feed ducks, it’s time to move on to the best foods you can provide to these feathered birds:
Sweet Corn 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.
You don’t have to cook the peas; just defrost them before feeding the ducks.
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.
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.
From instant porridge oats to rolled oats and flapjacks, these whole-grain cereals will be a great source of fibers for the ducks.
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.
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: Ducks’ 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 once a time. For that, ducks will scoop up into the water from below the surface and wait for tiny creatures to appear, including fish. Most of these types of fishes are so small, almost microscopic.
Q: Do ducks eat frogs?
A: Ducks would rarely come across adult frogs or eat them; however, they would undoubtedly look for froglets. Tadpoles are somehow the ideal food for ducks, as they are kind of easy to find in the shallow waters. Besides, ducks can swallow and scoop them easily.
Q: Are ducks eating ticks?
A: Yes, ducks enjoy eating ticks. Because of that, poultry farmers use ducks as birds that aid in 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 the slow-moving waters. Ducks enjoy eating duckweed, as the name suggests. The reason for that is because they can scoop it up due to their spatula-like bill.
These animals love duckweed because they can find other small insects and larvae among the free-floating plant. This sounds like a rich meal, doesn’t it?
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 hard foods.
Q: Are ducks drinking water?
A: Yes, ducks drink water, just like any other species of birds. Water is crucial for them and helps these birds maintain their good condition. In addition, ducks clean their eyes and nostrils using water. Sometimes, ducks will drink even 1 liter of water per day.
Ducks love to eat seeds, sweetcorn, rice, little fishes, or frogs. On the other hand, bread is not suitable for them, so people should choose other snacks while feeding them in the parks.