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How to Feed a Duck

In the springtime, when my kids were toddlers, a favorite activity was to take them to the local pond to feed the ducks little pieces of bread. They would laugh with delight as mama duck and her ducklings raced around chasing the tiny bread bits we’d toss in the water. And we weren’t the only family with the same idea. On any Saturday morning in the still frigid March on Long Island, feeding the ducks became a regular Saturday morning activity for parents to get their kids out of the house where they’d been stuck all winter.

Now that I’ve been living in Texas close to a nature preserve with a lake and greenway, I see many breeds of ducks lining the lake shores. There are Muscovy, the popular white Pekin ducks, Mallards, and more. At the lake, there are some lovely neighbors who have dedicated their mornings to feeding the ducks every day. The weather is so hot here in the summer that they also bring plenty of water which they leave in the plastic take-out containers to retrieve and refill the next day. I’ve learned from them that feeding ducks and other waterfowl bread, cookies, crackers, and chips is unhealthy for them because there is no nutritional value in these highly processed foods (hints to moms). Glutenous bread bloats their stomachs and there’s no room left for nutrition. When you see a floating duck in the water with a wing sticking straight up, you’ll know it’s been feasting on white bread. The bread and other treats cause this wing deformity making it difficult or impossible for the bird to fly.

So, what to feed the ducks? I found by watching my friend that not all ducks like the same things. Some of them enjoyed a refreshing meal of juicy watermelon on the hot day I was there, but mostly they were fed a watery mush of cabbage and veggies. Many of the ducks enjoyed cracked corn or duck feed from the local Petco. Also, you can find cracked corn in the pet food aisle of many grocery stores.

So, if it’s a morning activity to feed the ducks with a toddler, you're out for your morning nature walk, or you’re just sitting and sketching in your journal, leave the bread scraps for the compost, and bring along a handful of these yummy bird treats. This is especially helpful when there are new ducklings for the mama to look after and feed. The birds will thank you. And don't forget to record your experience in your journal!



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