Feeding Ducks and their Ducklings
4 Things you Need to Support your Local Duck Population
Ducks are intuitive, intelligent, calculating, confident, and stubborn. Like parrots. I have relationships with most of my ducks, growing relationships with the rest, and offered a relationship for the outliers. I speak Muscovy duck conversationally with flair. I've been able to get the twang of Mallard and the slang of Pekin.
Know your rights, and theirs.
I also speak fluent Florida Wildlife. Take a minute and visit your state's wildlife website to learn your rights, the animal's status, and your State Statutes for feeding and providing water and respite. Creating backyard rest stops for your local wildlife is promoted and supported in same fashion in every state. Know your rights. Know theirs.
Offer the proper feed. Appropriately.
LaFollett B&B Rest Stop was first certified by the National Wildlife Organization in 2018. Since then, we take pride in both the breakfast and the rest we provide to all our neighborhood ducks. The Pekins have realized if they stop with the melee and assaults, they can join in the feast. The Muscovy are thankful and open. Mr. and Mrs. Quaker Mallards have grown confident in me and themselves. Mrs. Quaker will force a dozen Muscovy ducks to make way for her at dinner service. Mr. Quaker follows quietly apologizing for his wife's rudeness.
Sonya a new mother Muscovy hen, arrived three days ago with her new clutch. She's a second year LBBRS customer. She'll eat out of my yellow feeding bowl as I hold it. She will sit on my foot while eating. No one will mess with a duck eating while sitting on my foot. She's figured that out. She's taught her brood who I am. She's taught them who all others are not. This morning she sat hovered over her hatchlings, while I fed them separately. Ducklings need a different nutrition then adults. I tossed them their morning MannaPro
Since our next-door neighbor threatened them all with death, and put up his impotent fence of PVC, I have modified feedings. To eliminate having to talk to him and ensure a lake full of ducks stays a lake full of ducks. This is where knowing your rights, the animal's rights, and the support law and statutes offer is important. Being an environmentally minded individual doesn't always make you popular. Or the animals you are working to support and protect.
Feed the adults and ducklings as a support, not a meal.
Feeding foragers means offering a rest stop. An addition to their natural paths for food exploration and hunting. Your goal is to create a safe harbor for rest and foods only. Creating a level of dependency where your local birds stop foraging naturally and stay put waiting on you is not your goal.
LBBRS customers caught onto the modifications within two meals. I scatter food for the adult ducks in a large semi-circle. Giving them work to do in foraging, and allowing others to grab a bite. Crow, grackle, blue jay, black birds, a few gulls, and the occasional ibis. I add left over parrot food and pellets, as well as chopped vegetable matter from cooking. Their main feed mixes in with all these healthy additives not only leave no waste in our kitchen, and parrot care, but adds food variation for all. In the fall we have a possum and raccoon visit.
Sonya brought her ducklings near the porch this morning. Her ducklings puddled while she ate from the yellow bowl, I held tipped for her, as she told me her latest "mom issues". Kids won't listen. Not getting enough sleep. Kids won't listen. Jason Jr. disappeared for an hour getting lost behind the neighbor's garbage can. Kids! Her puddle of peepers popped up, then dropped down randomly, inside their tight circle of safety. Peeping with each pop.
Muscovy ducks take advantage of homeowners watering lawns. After dining at the LBBRS customers make their way to the curbs to have a bath and an after-dinner drink. Sonya is no exception. She does choose the length of runoff water with no other ducks. Naps are taken in yards under the best shade trees. Duck dispersal into the neighborhood follows. A water source I bring out when ducklings are about in the spring are chick and duckling watering troughs. Easy to clean, easy to fill and carry. They keep the little ones safe from drowning in deep puddles, and they keep the water clean for healthy ducks. Big enough for adults, safe for the ducklings. I use Doublewood brand. They're the toughest for the Florida sun.
Ducks have their reasons. They have their preferences. They have their voices and ideas. They have a right to be where nature intended. Our fences and our ideas aren't theirs.