Should I Feed The Ducks?

If it is bread then NO! Because it is actually hurting the ducks, geese, swans, moorhens and all the other river life. If you do it right then maybe!

The 'should I feed the ducks?' debate is ongoing. So here are the facts to help you:

5 Reasons NOT To Feed The Ducks

  • Ducks don’t actually need feeding - they are capable of getting enough food from their surroundings.  
  • If people feed them too much and too often they become reliant on it.
  • The surrounding waterways become polluted - destroying the birds habitat  (think algae blooms and bacterial overgrowth) so they are forced to leave.
  • The birds behaviour can change - they become aggressive and can overpopulate a small area.
  • Left over food can attract rodents (think rats) and help spread disease.

But the children love it! To be honest, so do I! It is a lovely calming activity for young and old! It encourages them to think about their environment. It gets them outside. It can be done safely so WHY NOT DO IT RIGHT?

Don't feed ducks bread!

  • Bread, the staple of duck feeding right? NO!
  • Feeding ducks bread is bad for both their health and their environment. 
  • Bread has little nutritional value and if ducks eat too much they get full. This stops them eating the things they really need. If this happens ducklings especially are at risk of getting sick and getting deformities (such as angel wing which is where their wings grow twisted ) which means they can’t fly. 
  • And definitely don’t feed mouldy bread - mould can kill ducks.

What Should I Feed The Ducks?

CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOOD - Any food similar to the natural seeds, grains and plants they would find on their own. They are omnivores so eat a wide variety of foods.

Foods To Feed

  • Birdseed (any type or mix)
  • Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes - don’t throw away your leftovers!
  • Chopped vegetable trimmings or peels
  • Cracked corn (literally dried and cracked corn kernels)
  • Duck feed pellets or possibly poultry starter pellets
  • Earthworms
  • Frozen peas or corn (defrosted but no need to cook)
  • Grapes (cut in half)
  • Mealworms (fresh or dried)
  • Oats (uncooked - rolled or quick cook)
  • Rice (cooked or uncooked)
  • Sweetcorn - any kind (fresh, frozen or tinned!)
  • Wheat, barley or similar grains

You can buy most of these quite cheaply at the supermarket, garden centre, pet shop or even Amazon!

With any of these, basic food hygiene is important - if you can eat it, they can eat it. For example left over takeaway rice that has been kept in the fridge is fine but it will be dangerous for you and therefore for them if it has sat on the side for 3 days!

Foods To Avoid

Does too many calories and not enough nutrition sound familiar?

  • Bread
  • Chips
  • Crackers and biscuits
  • Popcorn
  • Sugary food - sweets, chocolate

7 Tips - How To Feed Ducks Safely

  1. Feed the ‘right’ food
  2. Don’t feed too often
  3. Stop if they stop eating
  4. Only feed bite sized pieces or they may choke
  5. Be careful of birds coming too close - they can be aggressive and larger birds (swans/geese) can be dangerous for an adult let alone a toddler
  6. Take your rubbish home/put it in a bin (it can hurt them if they eat it/get caught in it)
  7. Don’t chase the birds (they get stressed or injured)

So then, "Should I feed the ducks?"

If you do it right, yes. Feeding the ducks is a lovely wildlife interaction. Young and old can do it side by side and it is a great way to encourage young children to care about their environment and the ducks environment. Why not do it right?

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