Never feed wild birds white bread!
Summer, Autumn, Winter or Spring, if there are ducks in your park, you will see people feeding them. And what are they feeding these birds? Nine times out of ten, it’s white bread. They might as well be feeding the ducks rat poison! White bread is very harmful to the birds! Whole wheat bread isn’t much better. Bread is not naturally part of their diet.
You can still enjoy feeding the wild ducks with your preschool child, unless it is forbidden in your community. Ducks in the wild eat plants, fish, and insects. You can feed them by offering them food choices that are natural or similar to their dietary requirements.
Feed the wild ducks:
- meal worms – fresh or dried
- birdseed – any kind
- grapes – cut in half
- peas – fresh or frozen
- corn – fresh, frozen or cracked
- chopped salad greens
- vegetable trimmings and peels – chopped
- duck feed pellets
Preparing Food for the Ducks
Meal worms are easy to raise, if you find that feeding the ducks is something you and your child want to do more often. Digging earthworms can be a fun project for any preschooler. Cutting grapes in half using a plastic knife may be a suitable activity for an older, more coordinated preschool child. The duck feed pellets can be purchased at farming and agricultural supply stores like Farm and Fleet or Tractor Supply.
A few ground rules for feeding ducks:
- Stop feeding them if they don’t seem interested. Some one else may have just fed them.
- Stop feeding them if they are not eating everything. Left over feed can dirty their environment, spoil, mold, or attract rats.
- Keep your distance. Larger birds like geese and swans can become quite aggressive and may hurt your child.
- Leave your dog at home when feeding the birds. Don’t let him chase and injure the wildlife.
- Pick up all your trash. Empty plastic bags, baggie ties, and other litter can injure or even kill a duck.
- Do find out what your city ordinances are regarding feeding the ducks. You don’t want the lesson your child learns is how much the ticket costs when you are fined.
Raise Community Awareness
Consider getting your community involved in protecting the wild ducks. If they have a “do not feed” policy that no one adheres to, perhaps they would consider installing a feed-dispensing machine. For a quarter, a child could get a small handful of healthy duck pellets to feed the wild birds. When the feed dispenser is empty, the birds have had enough feed for the day. Such machines are available online. Search for Duck Food Dispenser.
More Duck Activities
For more enrichment, bring a pair of binoculars so your child can observe the ducks “close up”. Encourage your child to notice the difference between the males and females, or to identify the adults from the young. Often wild ducks and geese will flock together. How are geese different? How are they the same? Take pictures of the ducks, and of your child feeding the ducks. You may want to use them when you study the letter D, or when you do the unit on Birds.