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Diet / Feeding:
Muscovy ducks are omnivorous, feeding on worms, insects, fish and reptiles. They also forage for larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, snails and crabs.
They also eat a variety of plant material, including weed, leaves, stems, seeds and roots, obtained by grazing or dabbling in shallow water.
In water they may also feed by up-ending (turning upside down - with the head in the water and the tail sticking out).
Captive Muscovies are usually fed a maintenance ration of pellets and also grains.
Feeding Wild Ducks ...
We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!
But there are problems associated with your doing so.
First of all, the biggest benefits of having Muscovy Ducks around is the fact that they eat mosquitos, thus keeping the mosquito population down (as well as eating other nasty bugs). If you feed them, they will not have to look for bugs to eat. They also eat weed – which is another benefit. Bugs and weed are healthier for them than human food – so if they continue to eat human food, they are likely to get sick and not live as long.
Also, another problem is that birds in general won’t produce more chicks than nature can support. If people supplement their food, the parents will have more and more chicks who are in turn relying on YOU to feed them. The more you feed them, the more chicks there will be.
If those who feed them move away, these ducks are all in trouble as they will starve; at which point, they will start fighting each other and you will see lots of injured / dead ducks around. It’s not a nice picture.
Also, the communities usually start to complain if there are too many ducks. I have heard too many times of people who are really upset because their community associations are trapping and killing ducks … It’s very sad and shouldn’t happen – as long as we respect them, allow them to live naturally and enjoy them without turning them into pets.
This being said, I am also guilty of occasionally feeding them healthy (whole-grain) bread if I have too much for us to consume; but I do so very rarely so that they not start to depend on it. In some cases, they may NEED some help - particularly those populations occurring in areas hit by snow and cold weather. In these cases, bugs or weed aren't readily available and feeding them may help them survive a cold winter.
This being said, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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