Summary: Mallard ducks eat algae, amphibians, aquatic insects, aquatic plants, aquatic vegetation, barley, beetles, berries, birdseed, bugs, bulrushes, butterflies, caddisflies, corn, crayfish, crustaceans, dragonflies, earthworms, fish, fish eggs, flies, frogs, fruits, grains, grapes, grass, greens, hackberry, insects, leaves, lepidopterans, lettuce, mealworms, mollusks, moths, nuts, oak seeds, plant roots, primrose, rice, salad, salamanders, seeds, shrimp, slugs, small fish, snails, tadpoles, tubers, vegetables, water elm seeds, weeds, wheat, wild rice, willow and worms.
Mallard ducks are omnivores and will eat grasses, aquatic plants, algae, roots, tubers, fish, insects, small amphibians, mollusks and other small animals. They prefer to feed on the surface of the water and are very flexible as to what they will eat. Their diet is also going to be determined by not only the food available but also breeding cycle as well as competition between other species for the same food source. This particular duck is not limited to just one sort of diet, rather they have several different choices.
A pair of mallard or wild ducks. © Richard Bartz.
Invertebrates and gastropods
Mallards have a wide variety of choices when it comes to invertebrates such as dragonflies, caddisflies, flies, lepidopterans (moths and butterflies) and beetles. Worms, small amphibians, mollusks and crustaceans also round out the mallard diet in this particular classification. With such a variety of food available to them, they are able to find good food no matter where they are.
Tubers and roots
Mallard ducks feeding on the edge of a lake. © Daniele Pellati.
This is also a staple of the mallard diet. Roots and tubers play an important role in the nutrition of the Mallard. Bulrushes, hackberry, barley and roots of swamp trees make an important part of the mallard diet. Any roots or tubers that they can find are added to their diet.
Plant matter and seeds
Mallards also feed on the seeds that they find during foraging, as well as plant matter. Seeds in the diet include primrose, willow, oak, wild rice, wheat, corn and barley. They can also eat water elm seeds as well as other seeds that they find foraging.
Frogs and other animals
While some of the animals that mallards eat have already been listed above, they also eat frogs, small fish, insects, freshwater snails, a variety of aquatic plants and fish eggs. So the diet is varied depending on location as well as what life cycle the mallard is in. Since they do not completely dive into the water like other birds, they can get more by tipping their heads under the water to feed themselves.
Related birds and their diets
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