What to feed ducks & how to feed ducks safely

There are a thousand and one things that you can feed ducks, though, in recent years, there's been a little more pressure to be scrupulous with the wildlife-feeding choices that you make. The best example of this, of course, is the rising pressure not to feed ducks bread.


We'll be talking about that and a whole host of other things in this article, so keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding ducks near you.

What do wild ducks eat?

A great place to start when deciding what to feed any animal is to take a look at what its natural diet is. To feed wild ducks, we need to ask what their typical diet is.

Well, our feathered friends have a vaguely omnivorous diet, eating everything from aquatic vegetation to seeds, insects, and worms. They also eat some small amphibians and crustaceans.


The reality of their diet

Obviously, though, their diet is limited by where they live, and what they have access to. For this reason, the ducks in your local pond are most likely to eat bird seed, pond weed, and small insects.

A great place to start when thinking about what to feed ducks, therefore, is to consider if there are any things they eat naturally that you could offer them. The easiest option, here, is to track down some birdseed in a supermarket or a specialist store, and offer small amounts of that - you can be sure that'll eat it, and it will be formulated to be part of a balanced diet for them.

What to bear in mind when feeding ducks

The main thing to consider when you feed wild birds is that there is likely to be a large amount of food uneaten. This might sound surprising since ducks so readily gobble up food, but on a busy day at the park, they simply might not be able to eat everyone's offerings.


The leftover food is where the largest part of the problem lies. That food can attract vermin, and spoil as it sits on the ground or in the water of a pond. This is one of the largest problems with feeding bread to ducks - it can grow mold, which affects the microbes and other life living in ponds across the country.


When bread, or other foods, attracts vermin, the vermin can be tempted into staying, since it's a fairly plentiful food source. These vermin can then take food from ducks, so when you think you're feeding the ducks, you could, in reality, be feeding the pests at your local park.

Ducks on a pond

What you should feed ducks

As we mentioned before, a good jumping-off point is a food that they eat in the wild. However, we understand that tracking down a bag of mealworms can be both tricky and expensive. With that in mind, what are your other options?


Your options are essentially bread duck into rice, fruit and veggies, and seeds and nuts. These options are typically all perfectly edible by ducks, and typically break down differently from how bread does, preventing ecological upset from mold spores. We do offer our very own range of duck food for you to safely feed the local ducks.

Some quick answers

From frozen peas to uncooked rice, and even instant porridge oats, you have a lot of options. We're going to run over some options in greater detail later, but simple, natural foods are a great place to start.

Do young birds need to eat something different?

Interestingly, ducklings eat pretty much the same as the food that their parents eat - seeds, insects, and aquatic vegetation. This means that when you're feeding the ducks, you're likely to see some little ones munching away at much the same food as their parents.


In captivity

Bird enthusiasts that raise their own ducklings often try to give the little birds more protein than they would give to an adult duck, since the little ones are growing, and need that protein and essential vitamins.

Young ducklings are wild animals, just the same as their parents. For this reason, we'd recommend feeding mealworms and birdseed to them, just as you would with adult ducks - perhaps in smaller portions, though, as too much food could make them sick.

Should I feed bread to ducks?

Flying Duck

Just as with garden birds and a whole bunch of other animals, feeding ducks bread is a bad idea. The reason for this is that stale bread, or any other kind, isn't very nutritionally dense. This lack of nutritional value means that they can fill their stomachs with, essentially, nothing.

In turn, they won't have the room to eat enough insects, seeds, and the like to make sure that they get the right nutrients in their diet.

This could be compared to a human eating junk food - it will fill your belly, but it doesn't have the nutritional value to keep you going in the long term.

Something to bear in mind

It's worth pointing out that while bread is the last resort for ducks, it's not the end of the world if they eat it - a duck is more likely to die from lack of eating than from eating just bread. Across the country, and the world, people have been urged to stop feeding ducks bread - this has led to some deaths due to the fact that ducks' diets in some spots can be supplemented by the calories in the bread.

Duck and Chicks

Duck food to definitely avoid

The food to avoid, at all costs, is food that falls into the no nutritional value trap. If a duck can eat dunk food or bread, then it will. Eventually, it will fill its belly, and get quite sick.

Duck Chicks

Eating rich, greasy, or starchy food like fries and bread will lead to poor health for the bird themselves. Their dietary systems aren't meant to eat processed food, so they can end up with some dietary problems.

Breaking away from the pack

This isn't the case with other wild birds, since they've evolved to be a little more resilient to the odd food humans eat and leave lying around - a seagull can eat nearly anything, for example.


Dry rice is a great idea for something that ducks eat. The grains themselves are fairly small, which means that they can be swallowed whole by the ducks, and the food itself will be digested in good time.

Also, rice has a number of important vitamins in it so, unlike feeding ducks too much bread, they won't fill up on nutrient-lacking food.

Fruit and Veggies

Fruit and veggies are a great idea for ducks, since they're very vitamin-dense, meaning that feeding birds frozen peas can lead to the perfect dietary makeup for ducks and other waterfowl.


Specific options

The principal options that people recommend for feeding ducks are frozen peas and sliced grapes. They can be eaten by the ducks easily, leading to a tasty, nutrient-dense meal.

Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and nuts are also dense with nutrients, though smaller options are better. One of the best options is porridge oats. Since they're flat and light, they'll sit on the surface of a duck pond, where wild birds can easily scoop them up and eat them.

Those oats, and other seeds, too, have plenty of nutritional value, which means that the ducks can be a healthy diet while not draining your bank account.