Ducks can be called omnivorous birds since they feed on a wide variety of foods. The varied nature of a duck’s diet is found to give them enough nutrition. Some of the most common things that ducks eat include small varieties of fish and the eggs of fish. They’ll also eat the mollusks, snails and worms found in and around water and little crustaceans. Plant-wise, they’ll eat small berries and fruits, weeds and grass, most types of algae and aquatic plants. Not many people know that they’ll also eat frogs, a range of amphibians and salamanders, insects found in water and on land, small fruits, grains and seeds.
A mallard duckling eating a fish. © Mike’s Birds.
Very interestingly, ducks also consume sand, gravel and little stones to assist with their digestive process. However, the type of food that ducks will seek depends on a number of factors. There are a number of species of ducks and the food habits of ducks vary between the different duck species. Some duck species are specialists in consuming a particular variety of food. For instance, common mergansers, seen with slender, toothed bills mostly eat fish. The diet of ducks also depends on seasonal differences too.
What they eat and when?
A male comb duck eating grass. © Bernard DUPONT.
Ducks mostly feed on insects in spring and summer when they are in plentiful supply. In addition, the insects provide the best suited and adequate nutrition necessary for rearing the ducklings, which are usually born during these seasons. During other seasons when it is difficult to find insects, ducks demonstrate a change in their eating patterns. The style or method in which a duck feeds also significantly influences it diet. Dabbling ducks mostly depend on insects and aquatic plants available in shallow waters. Ducks that can dive deep in water to feed more on fish that are available in the deeper segments of water.
Diet of ducks in farms
We also need to talk of ducks reared in farms and houses. Most people think bread is an ideal food for ducks. This is certainly a misnomer. Bread can make the worst diet for ducks since they do not contain any of the nutrients required by birds. Ducks mainly fed on bread are prone to a long list of health problems. In addition, the rotting pieces of uneaten bread will contaminate their water habitat by inviting pests and predators. People who rear ducks need to understand that the best and most suitable diet for ducks features cracked corn, lettuce leaves and chopped vegetables. The other nutritious diet for ducks can include wheat, earthworms, oats, millets, barley, grapes, birdseed and peas. The diet given to ducks should closely resemble what they naturally eat while foraging on their own.
Related birds and their diets
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