Ducks are omnivorous, which means they eat both plants and animals as part of their diets. What ducks eat the most can depend on what sort of habitat they live in. For example, ducks that live near parks and grassland will have a diet that consists mainly of seeds, grasses and grains and ducks that live near wetlands will eat more amphibians such as; frogs and small fish.
Because the term duck covers many different species of birds, it can vary between species as to what they like to eat. For example, mallards and pintails will mainly eat aquatic plants and vegetation, and mergansers eat fish mainly - this is because they have hooked, serrated bills that are ideal for this purpose.
Feeding ducks at the park
If you go down to your local park or pond, chances are you'll see people feeding bread to ducks. This is often an activity that includes children as it can be entertaining to them and also gets them interacting with nature - which helps teach respect and love to wild animals. Whilst ducks will happily take and eat the bread. It's not very good for them in the long term.
Although feeding bread to ducks isn't harmful itself, as they can digest it without no problems, the bread will provide no nutritious value and can leave ducks feeling full without getting the nutrients they need.
Prolonged feeding of just bread to ducks can lead to malnourishment and even them becoming overweight - this can have knock-on effects like deformed wings, which means the ducks cannot then fly. Any leftover bread that the ducks don't eat can often attract rats, which also can then contribute to diseases being spread.
It's ok to feed the occasional bit of bread to ducks, but if it can be avoided, please substitute for one of the options listed below. It's also recommended to avoid feeding ducks cereal, crackers, chips, sweets and mouldy food to ducks.
It's not recommended to feed mouldy bread to ducks, as it can lead to the ducks becoming unwell and, in some cases, can lead to things like lung disease. So please try and avoid feeding mouldy bread to ducks.
There are many other things you can feed ducks that they will enjoy just as much, and you'll be contributing to a better, healthier lifestyle for them.
Feeding ducks from your hand
When feeding ducks, it's best to feed in smaller amounts to avoid leaving piles of food around. Food is best given to ducks by scattering on the surface of the water instead of on land - this is because the food on the land exposes ducks to their predators, and being on the water is much safer for them.
Try and keep a good distance away and keep noise levels down - this will help not scare the ducks. Always ensure children are supervised when near the water.
Ducks will take food from your hand if they feel confident enough. If this is something you want to do, we suggest getting lower down to the ground and keeping calm and quiet, as any sudden movements and noise will scare the ducks.