Monday, June 6, 2011

Feeding Wild Ducks

Our baby ducks haven't had good luck this year, and we don't know whether to blame snapping turtles, hawks, ground water pollution, or all of the above. The first family only hatched two, and they were gone within three days.

The second family of thirteen didn't fair well at all, and by the time the mother had orphaned or abandoned them, only three ducklings remained. They were aggressively rejected by the mother of Family #3, and actually survived on their own for a few days, staying together and doing the things their mom had taught them. Eventually, Mother #3 allowed them to join her brood of seven.

With the combined families, we are back to only seven. The babies are teens now, and it's difficult to tell which are from Family #2 vs. Family #3. One has been lame for a couple of weeks, but he seems to manage OK in the water, and limps around on land. I pamper him and all the rest of the teens and their mom.

I'm still amazed at the number of people who bring big loafs of white bread, throwing it in big chunks into the water. First, it may fill the tummies of ducks, geese, fish, and turtles, but white bread is not healthy or nutritious for man nor beast. It causes water pollution, introduces additives like sodium to their diet, and deters them from finding and eating what they should be eating: PROTEIN. Normally, this would come from insects and larvae in the water.

It's recommended that wild ducks and geese not be fed by humans, but if you must, please feed them something that could be part of their normal diet. Feed stores sell domestic duck and goose feed pellets. PetSmart usually carries a Duck and Goose blend with whole dried corn, wheat seed, and milo seed. We usually buy a seed blend and mix it with cracked corn, which is less expensive. We purchase ours at Ingles. It is labeled as "Scratch" in the pet food department.

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