Healthy Wildlife

Healthy Wildlife
News - 5/28/2020
Don’t Feed the Ducks
Spring is a time of regeneration, with trees budding and gardens growing. It is also the time when animals are producing offspring, and this is particularly noticeable around lakes and ponds. On Oswego Lake I commonly see mother ducks with several ducklings in tow as I travel up Oswego or Blue Heron canals, scooting them along as I slowly move to the next sampling spot. They always get out of the way and I have never had one hurt in all the years of sampling the lake. At one point there was a duck nest in the bushes next to the marina door, on the parking lot side no less. A family of ducks used to parade up the boat ramp to cross McVey every morning, causing a bit of a stir as they crossed the street.

These activities show resiliency and the ability of ducks to survive in a heavily populated lake with boats and domestic pets everywhere. They seem to survive fine without intervention, and there are plenty of natural food sources for them to eat without supplemental feeding. I mention this because this is the time of year people tend to feed wildlife, thinking they need the nourishment for their growing family. Because they like wildlife, they feel it is OK to provide food so they can watch them eat. However, providing food for ducks and geese actually does more harm than good.

Ducks and geese need a variable diet consisting of grasses, grains, aquatic plants, and invertebrates. Feeding them a steady diet of grain is not healthy, and this is especially true if they are fed a steady diet of bread. Providing food from one location encourages waterfowl to concentrate at the food source, which also concentrates their waste products and can lead to overcrowding and disease. If continually fed there will be no reason for ducks and geese to migrate, meaning they stay around all winter and may not survive a particularly harsh winter season. The best thing to do is allow ducks and geese to find their own food, which makes a healthy avian population. There is much more information about the consequences of artificial feeding at the following website: https://www.wildlifecenter.org/problem-feeding-ducks