It is common for individuals to walk along a pond, creek or lake and attempt to feed the wildlife. They may see wild birds, fish or other animals and be tempted to offer the animals something to eat. Wild ducks are often fed by individuals and families since, in most situations, the animals are not dangerous and will gladly eat many food items you give to them. However, by feeding them, you may be doing more harm than good.
Why Not to Feed Wild Ducks
When humans feed wild ducks it encourages them to stick around the area, since the birds are finding and being given food so easily. You may think you are helping the ducks by ensuring they are not without food. However, this can affect the migration patterns of the ducks and damage the area where you are feeding the ducks.
According to the Volunteers for Wildlife, wild ducks instinctively migrate when the natural food supply starts to run low. Once this happens they move south where the food supply is more plentiful. By feeding the ducks, you risk keep the ducks in the same area throughout the fall and winter, since they are receiving all the food they need from humans.
Feeding by humans not only encourages ducks to remain at local ponds and waterways but also attracts other ducks to the area, which can cause overcrowding. When there is an excessive population number of ducks the surrounding area may be damaged by the excessive amounts of droppings and the overall feeding habits of the ducks. In the fall and winter as people feed ducks less frequently, the large duck population quickly consumes the remaining available food. Death by starvation and disease becomes common.
Overpopulation in pond and lake areas can also increase bacteria in the water, which can kill off other wildlife, sicken other ducks and possibly cause infections to humans who are in contact with the water.
What Foods Are Nutritious for Ducks
According to the Humane Society, a normal diet for wild ducks includes both plants and invertebrates. Plants could include common plant life around wet areas such as pond weeds, aquatic grasses and seeds. Invertebrates include small fish and fish eggs. Young ducks and ducks that are about to breed tend to eat more invertebrates to gain essential proteins.
It is important to note that although ducks may eat bread, chips and other foods designed for human consumption, none of these foods will benefit the duck nutritionally. You will need to find feed specifically designed for ducks.
If you do need to feed a wild or pet duck, it is important to note that ducks have specific nutrients they need in order to live a healthy life.
According to Hilary Stern, doctor of Veterinary Medicine, ducks should be given food in crumbled or pelleted form, and designed specifically for ducks. You may be able to find this type of feed at a pet store.