Foods you should never feed ducks but probably do

It's more harmful than you think.

Ducks are omnivorous birds, meaning they eat various foods, including plants, insects, small fish, and crustaceans.

While ducks will eat bread, that doesn’t mean you should be feeding it to them. 

Little girl feeding ducks bread
(Credit: Getty)

What does a duck eat?

Ducks eat a diverse diet that typically includes aquatic plants, seeds, grains, grasses, insects, small fish, and crustaceans. They are opportunistic feeders and will consume whatever food is available in their environment.

According to an article on the Sunshine Coast Council website, ideally, it’s best not to feed wild ducks.

“However, if you choose to feed them, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you minimise ecological impact:

  • only feed appropriate foods such as cut grapes, cooked rice, bird seed or grains, frozen peas or corn once thawed, mealworms or commercial duck food pellet
  • avoid bread or any baked goods.”
black duck

Is bread bad for ducks?

Bread lacks the essential nutrients that ducks need for proper growth and development, and consuming large quantities of bread can lead to malnutrition, obesity, and health problems in ducks.

“White bread, in particular, has no real nutritional value, so while birds may find it tasty, the danger is that they will fill up on it instead of other foods that could be more beneficial to them,” says a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Why should we stop feeding bread to ducks:

  • Malnutrition: Bread lacks essential nutrients for duck health, leading to malnutrition over time.
  • Digestive issues: Ducks’ digestive systems are not designed to process bread efficiently, which can lead to digestive problems such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Obesity: Bread is high in carbohydrates and low in essential nutrients, leading to weight gain and obesity in ducks if consumed regularly.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: Ducks that fill up on bread may not eat other foods that provide essential nutrients, leading to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals necessary for their health.
  • Development of angel wing: A condition where a duck’s wing feathers grow abnormally due to an imbalanced diet, making them unable to fly properly.
  • Increased susceptibility to diseases: Feeding bread can weaken ducks’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to diseases and infections.
  • Altered behaviour: Ducks may become dependent on handouts and lose their natural foraging instincts, leading to changes in their behaviour and social dynamics.
  • Water pollution: Uneaten bread can contribute to water pollution by increasing nutrient levels in lakes, ponds, and rivers, leading to algae blooms and other ecological imbalances.

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