Ducks are fascinating aquatic birds. They belong to the Anatidae family which are known as swans and geese despite, being generally smaller than them. These birds may consume both vegetation and other animals as they are omnivorous. So, in this article, we will find out What Do Ducks Eat?
These aquatic birds can be found in different water habitats some are domestic and are kept in poultry farms park ponds and lakes and some are found in the wild. As their environment is different their capacity to consume different kinds of food will also differ because of their habitat. So before we discuss what ducks consume? Let’s learn more about their gastrointestinal system or digestive system.
1. Ducks Digestive System
The digestive system in ducks is specialized. Ducks have no teeth or very few teeth, and the bottom of their mouths are not very rigid, allowing them to stretch out or enabling them to move through the water to get food. At first, food goes to the esophagus and like other birds ducks also have specialization expansion of the esophagus which is known as Crop, which temporarily helps to store food in there.
Secondly, the esophagus food then enters the thin-walled structure glandular section of the stomach known as the proventriculus. Thirdly proventriculus connects to the ventricular, which is Gizzard. After that gizzard leads into the small intestines. In addition, the pancreas is located in the small intestine.
The large intestine follows the rectum and then the colon after the small intestine. Lastly, the colon empties into the cloaca, by which waste will be excreted. Moreover, Within the lobes of the liver, the gallbladder is situated. The digestive systems of every breed of ducks are very similar. But it can differ because of adaptation and different diets.
In particular, Dabbling ducks mostly feed on plants. On the other hand diving ducks mostly are carnivores as they mostly eat fish, insects, etc., despite the other ducks who are raised on farms have different digestive systems because of selective breeding and feeding structure.
In other words, a duck’s digestive system can vary because of its environment, habitat, and adaptation.
2. Different Types Of Ducks Breeds And What Do They Eat?
It is believed that there are almost 130 different breeds of ducks around the world so let us take a look at the most common duck breeds and what they eat. Moreover, most ducks eat similar foods.
2.01. Domestic Breed Ducks
2.01.01 Pekin Ducks
The Pekin duck or white Pekin is an American breed of domestic duck that originated from China. They are raised for their meat and now are worldwide available and have white feathers, orange bills, and legs and are observed for their fast growth rate.
Male 4.5 kg (10 lb), Female:- 4.1 kg ( 9 lb)
Pekin Ducks Eat
• Commercial Duck Feed.
• Leafy greens
• Kitchen scrap( Not all kitchen scraps are good for ducks so before feeding them please research well.)
2.01.02. Muscovy Breed Ducks
It is said that South America is where Muscovy ducks first appeared. They are widely distributed globally for meat and are mentioned for their unique flavour come in different colours and have red caruncles on their faces. Additionally, these ducks are kept as ornamental ducks.
Male( 4.8 – 6.8 kg) Female :- (2.7-3.6 kg)
Muscovy Ducks Eat
• Protein-rich foods
• Whole grains
2.01.03. Khaki Campbell
It is said that Campbell originated from England so are demonstrated as a British breed of ducks. These ducks come in various colours dark, khaki, and white. And are dark usually olive green. Moreover, these ducks can lay 300 eggs per year.
Male (2.3-2.5 kg) Female ( 2.0-2.3 kg)
Khaki Campbell Eat
• Snails and shellfish
• Sprouted grains and legumes
• Fish and fish pellets
• Garden insects and weeds.
2.01.04. Indian Runner Ducks
Claims that Indian runner ducks are domestic ducks. They stand erect like penguins rather than wadding. The females usually lay 300-350 eggs per year and have a tall and slim body. Also comes in various colours and is demonstrated as ornamental ducks.
Male (1.6-2.3kg) Female (1.4-2kg)
Indian Runner Ducks Eat
- Aquatic plants
- Leafy vegetables
- Algae and microorganisms
2.01.05. Rouen Ducks
Consequently, Rouen ducks are heavyweight ducks and are raised for their meat and it is sated as wild mallard appearance. However, have plump bodies and moulted feathers.
Rouen Ducks Eat
- Cooked rice
- Earthworms and insects
- Frozen peas
2.02 Wild Ducks Breed
2.02.01. Mallard Duck
It is said that a Mallard or wild duck is a dabbling duck that breeds in a certain temperature of subcontinent America. Moreover, this breed of duck population is decreasing day by day. Males have purple and green patches likewise females have brown features.
Mallard Duck Eat
• Aquatic plants
• Seeds and grains
• Aquatic Insects and invertebrates
• Small fish eggs
2.02.02. Wood Ducks
These ducks originated or are found in North America. Moreover, these ducks are very colourful. Males have a metallic green head and red eyes whereas females have very neutral colour feathers that are greyish brown with white colour markings on them.
Wood Ducks Eat
• Acorns and seeds
• Aquatic plants
• Insects and invertebrates
• Fish and Amphibians
2.02.03. Mandarin ducks
Mandarin ducks are species of the East Palearctic or East Asia. They are known for their beautiful appearance. Males have patterns of orange, green, and purple Cwere in the same way females have grayish-brown feathers.
Mandarin Ducks Eat
- Plants matter
- Insects and invertebrates
- Small fish and amphibians
- Fresh grass
- Bird seed
2.02.04. Northern Pintail
Although the northern pintail is a species that is worldwide distributed in northern areas of Europe and North America maintains that they have a very slender and elegant body shape. Males have long pointed ponytails, brown heads, and gray bodies whereas female ducks have brown moulted colour.
Northern Pintail Ducks Eat
- Agricultural waste
- Aquatic invertebrates
- Vegetative tubers and rhizomes
- Algae and microorganism
- Small crustaceans
- Terrestrial invertebrates
The northern shoveler is known as a shoveler in Britain. It is said that these ducks are medium-sized and have spatula-shaped bills and are found across Europe and the northern parts. Males have green heads, white breasts, and chestnut bodies likewise female ducks have moulted brown feathers.
Shoveler Ducks Eat
- Plant seeds and tubers
- Vegetative parts of plants
- Insect eggs and larvae
- Mollusks and snails.
- Mosquito larvae
3. What Do Pregnant Ducks And Ducklings Or Baby Ducks Eat?
Ducks that are going to lay eggs need more nutrients and care. So, while feeding them make sure you feed them natural foods rather than processed ones. In addition, it will add little nutritional value to the duck’s diet.
3.01 Pregnant Ducks Eat
- High-quality commercial duck feeds
- Calcium supplements
- Protein sources ( eggs, earthworms, fish)
- sunflower seeds
3.02 Ducklings Or Baby Ducks
Baby Ducks or ducklings are newborn ducks and carry very different apatite from adult ducks and geese. Make sure you provide them with a natural diet and balanced nutrition. Not feeding them correctly can result in deformed wings.
3.03 Ducklings Or Baby Ducks Eat
- Starter feed
- Finely grounded feed
- Small, frequent meals
- Supplemental greens
4. What Do Ducks Not Eat?
Feeding ducks is a delightful activity for kids as well as adults. We visit a local park and feed ducks but have no idea about what should and should not be fed.
They are unique and special creatures with angel wings, but not feeding our feathered friends correctly can lead to harm to their health and feeding them the wrong food and even result in serious diseases.
They are unique and special creatures with angel wings, but not feeding our feathered friends correctly can lead to harm to their health and feeding them the wrong food and even result in serious diseases. So, the list of items that you shouldn’t feed ducks is provided here.
With youngsters, you can enjoy these lovely creatures. As you know duck populations are decreasing day by day so by following the list below make sure that you avoid feeding them these harmful food items.
4.01.01. White Bread
It doesn’t carry essential nutrients and eating it regularly can lead to malnutrition and can cause a problem in the digestive system.
4.01.02. Potato chips
These chips are processed food and contain large amounts of salt, artificial flavours, and preservatives and can be harmful to duck’s health.
It claims that cookies contain high levels of sugar, preservatives, additional flavours and salted butter can lead to weight gain, diabetes and other health issues in ducks.
It contains theobromine and too much-added sugar, which is very toxic for ducks as well as other animals hence, can cause harmful infections.
White and plain popcorn can be given in small amounts but butter and salted should be avoided.
4.01.06. Caffeinated Beverages
Beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks contain caffeine feeding these to ducks can harm their nervous system.
4.01.07. Onion And Garlic
It is best to stay away from certain kitchen goods because they contain substances that can damage red blood cells and cause anemia.
4.01.08. Dairy Products
Dairy products can cause stomach distress, diarrhea, and discomfort in ducks. because ducks cannot tolerate lactose.
4.01.09. Raw Potatoes
It has a small amount of solanine, which is poisonous and dangerous to ducks.
4.01.10. Citrus Fruits
Foods like lemon, orange, and pineapple should be avoided for ducks they contain citrus acid which is not good for ducks and cause irritation to them.
4.01.11. Insects, Fish And Plants
It is demonstrated that insects, fish, and plants contain pesticides and other medications should be avoided. As it contains chemicals is toxic and can lead to different infections and diseases.
5. Tips For Duck Feeding
5.01. Small Portions
While feeding ducks remember ducks don’t have teeth so during feeding them please provide them with bite-sized pieces. So you can avoid or prevent choking. Moreover, they also have small stomachs.
5.02. Scatter The Food
It is said that scattering the food items helps in the distribution of an equal amount of food for every duck. By doing this you can avoid the aggressive behavior of ducks fighting for food.
This is necessary for feeding, as ducks are actively hungry in the morning despite in the afternoon. Feeding them over time can lead to obesity and an upset stomach.
5.04. Avoid Hand Feeding
This is always suggested that hand-feeding ducks should be avoided. This can result in injury at your hand and even ducks and can aggressive. So better scatter them on the ground.
5.05. Feed Appropriate Amount
You have to feed an appropriate amount of food, starting with scattering a small amount of food. As you notice that they have finished it and are still hungry, next notice their behaviour and according to that balance your amount.
5.06. Consider Seasonal Change
Feed ducks according to seasonal change for example:- during winter ducks need warmer and protein-packed food like grains, seeds, and so on. Whereas during summer ducks love to eat insects, earthworms, and so on.
5.07. Watch Signs
While feeding notice their behaviour towards food. If they don’t show interest in food that means they might be full. Additionally, avoid feeding in excess. As a result, it may cause obesity and other health issues in them.
5.08. Enjoy From Distance
After scattering food don’t go close to them as they need their own space and going near to them can lead to aggressive behaviour. As a result, it may harm both of you and them.
5.09. Follow Local Regulations
Before feeding ducks check out or make sure, they allow you to feed the ducks. If you avoid the restriction penalty will be imposed on you.
5.10. Support Conversation Efforts
Consider supporting local conversation with wildlife rehabilitees who work there to protect wildlife. Ask them which food should be fed and which one should be avoided.
6. Final Note
In conclusion, ducks are very sensitive aquatic birds but are also very charming and beautiful. According to wildlife data, duck species are decreasing day by day and they are equally important as other birds and animals because of population, unhealthy habitat, and polluted environment.
In addition, most of the ducks die because of the discharge of pesticides and harmful chemicals into the water habitat. That’s why for protecting ducks we need to feed them nutritious food carefully. Say no to harmful chemicals.
Lastly, remember to change their water daily so they don’t run out of fresh water. Remember to scatter food in equal quantities. Avoid human-based food like bread, cookies, chips, etc. Meanwhile, if you are not able to afford commercial duck feed go for seeds, grains, cooked rice, sprouts, and legumes which are highly packed with fibre, protein, carbohydrates, and other essential minerals.