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Foods to Feed Ducks and What NOT to Feed Ducks

It’s almost a rite of passage to take our little ones to the local park/pond/lagoon to feed the ducks. But before you and your kids go running off with a loaf of stale bread and a dream, make sure you take a close look at what it is ok and not ok to feed ducks. We want to make sure the ducks, the park, the water and the planet are around for future generations to enjoy.

Am I allowed to feed ducks?

You certainly are allowed to feed ducks but there are many things to consider first. Be cautious of too much feeding – it is unhealthy for them and has the potential to damage the area. Rats, mice and other pests can also be attracted to leftover food.

Ducks are wild creatures, despite their waddling appearance, and they are capable of fending for themselves. Too much food supplied by humans might lead to them becoming aggressive towards each other and people or overpopulation. Make sure that whatever you do is in moderation and in keeping with the kinds of foods they eat naturally.

Here are some more tips about feeding water birds…

• Check local laws carefully before feeding (particularly state to state if you are travelling) and obey any signage.
• Be very wary of litter left on the land or in the water – take everything with you!
• Watch children and animals closely and make sure they don’t chase or harm the birds. There might be nests about and you don’t want to disturb them.
• Bigger birds like geese and swans have a tendency to become aggressive – keep an eye out and consider leaving if you see them approach. Better safe than sorry.
• Make sure all the food you are offering is in bite-sized pieces.
• If the ducks are not into it, if they’re leaving food behind or if other people are already feeding then try somewhere else.

What can I feed ducks?

The following foods are quite similar to the natural diet of ducks – insects, seeds, grains and plants. If you want to give your local ducks a healthy meal, try…

ddo not feed ducks bread

• Vegetable scraps (chopped)
• Mixed salads
• Fresh or dried mealworms
• Earthworms
• Defrosted (not cooked) frozen peas or corn
• Plain, unflavoured, unsalted nuts
• Any type of birdseed
• Cooked or uncooked rice
• Uncooked, rolled or quick oats
• Grapes (halved or quartered if they are big)
• Wheat, barley or any similar grains

What can’t I feed ducks?

This is a case where movies and TV shows get it very wrong! Bread is one of the worst things you can feed ducks – the nutritional value for ducks is very low, it can pollute waterways, attract pests and it can even harm the growth of ducklings! You need to make sure you avoid anything similar to bread. That means things like popcorn, cereal, crackers and chips are completely off the menu!

Keep to these ‘duck feeding rules’ and keep this list handy so you and your little ones duck feeding adventures will be happy and healthy experiences for all!

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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