Importance of Natural Resources

Please Don’t Feed the Ducks – Tips from a Wildlife Biologist

This video is proudly brought to you by the
Wildlife Diversity Program at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Most people have memories of visiting local
parks or ponds as a child to feed the ducks. It is hard to resist; the ducks follow you
around begging for food but the effect of this seemingly generous act is harmful. Feeding
ducks can create many problems for the birds as well as for the environment. In a natural setting, ducks feed on seeds,
aquatic plants and invertebrates such as snails and insects. People typically feed bread,
popcorn and chips which lack nutritional value and are a poor substitute for a ducks diet.
Most ducks at artificial feeding sites suffer from poor nutrition. Feeding attracts large concentrations of ducks
beyond what the natural ecosystem can support. As the population grows, the natural food
source decreases and the ducks become more dependent upon handouts. Feeding ducks can
lead to aggressive behavior and competition for food can cause unnecessary stress. Ducks
in crowded areas tend to defecate in the same location where they are feeding. All of these
factors can make the ducks more susceptible to disease. High concentrations of ducks can reduce water
quality and have negative impacts on plants and soil. Overgrazing of vegetation by the
ducks can lead to habitat degradation and soil erosion. Large quantities of duck feces
can kill grass and trees and cause unsanitary conditions in public access areas. Watching ducks is a great alternative to supplemental
feeding. Next time you visit a park or pond, grab your binoculars and camera instead of
a loaf of bread.

Reader Comments

  1. Good information… It will be helpful to place info boards in parks, example – Hermann Park, I do not see such a board and almost everyone feeds the ducks… Next time, I will let others know that we should not be feeding ducks…

  2. It should be noted that this applies to feral populations and not domesticated ones that were purposefully brought in to an apartment complex or gated community where common areas are maintained by management. Some are trying to use this video as a way to convince communities to stop feeding domesticated duck populations that have spent generations upon generations becoming dependant on residents and home owners.

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