Caring for wild ducks

Q. There are some wild ducks that I would like to feed and take care of. What do they eat and what kind of nesting do they need?

A. Ducks love to eat quite a wide range of foods. Bread is a popular thing to feed ducks, but actually, it isn’t the BEST thing to feed a duck. Too much of it isn’t good on their digestion and it doesn’t have a lot of nutrition.

You could try calling around to your local pet stores and feed stores (places that carry stuff for horses) and ask for “waterfowl feed.” Sometimes stores will special order it for you. The popular brand is made by Purina Mills and is called Mazuri Waterfowl Feed. It’s relatively cheap for 50 lbs and lasts a long time. There are other brands of waterfowl feed that are cheaper, also.

Or, you can find UNMEDICATED chicken mash from a feedstore and feed that. Make sure it is UNMEDICATED. Chicken medication will kill a duck.

If you cannot find any of that food, you can do fine with things that may be in your kitchen cupboard. Crumbled bread or cornbread with water or milk will make a quick meal. Cottage cheese and oatmeal is good. Chop up a hardboiled egg a day for protein (make sure to crumble the shell into fine pieces too for much-needed calcium). Also, chopped up greens (from garden or store), or blades of grass (make sure no chemicals have been used ) are good. Meals such as corn meal or even bird seed ground to a powder in a coffee grinder are good too.

If you can find worms, slugs, snails, or pillbugs then feed these to your bird too for protein! It will absolutely love them! But make sure any slugs or snails you feed haven’t been poisoned with any poisoned bait. Crumbled dry dog food, moistened with water can be served occasionally.

You can plant a garden and feed them from that – they love spinach and lettuces and leafy greens. You may want to fence off the garden to keep them from completely
destroying it.

As for a nesting place … you could make one. They like to hide in thick growth areas among bushes. You can provide straw or hay for them to build a nest.

The best thing you can do for these ducks is to make sure no dogs can get to them. Cats don’t bother ducks all that much, but dogs love to kill ducks.

Let me know if I can be of any more assistance.


  1. art fries says:

    There is a pond near the back of our house and wild mallard ducks have been
    coming to eat the wild bird food that we put down for the birds. This includes some cracked corn. I recently bought a large bag of corn that wasn’t cracked and have been
    giving this to the ducks. Some websites say cracked corn loses nutritional value and other say the whole corn is harder for the ducks to digest. So..what’s best to feed these
    ducks…Whole corn or cracked? And since I already have a 50 pound bag of the whole
    corn will that be OK to use? If the wild birds(blackbirds, finches,etc.) eat the whole corn
    can that be bad for them?

    • Steve says:

      I would feed them the cracked corn, which will be easier for them to both swallow and digest. Throw it on the banks of the pond so they can chase it down with water, otherwise they can choke to death since ducks have to chase every bite or so of food down with water.
      But as this website suggests, you can also feed them the Mazuri waterfowl feed–the Mazuri “maintenance” feed is what you’d feed to adult ducks that are not breeding (such as you’d find in autumn). It’s made in round pellets that float, so you can just toss them into the water and the wild ducks will eat it while they’re in the pond. They’ll love you for doing this. Try to broadcast a lot of it over a broad area of the pond so they don’t get into scuffles while they eat it!

  2. Nettie Foster says:

    wild ducks about 3 months old beginning to loose balance flutter around in water
    fall over cant fly yet

  3. Erin says:

    So I don’t know whether or not anyone will read this because the other comments are from so long ago, but last night as I was getting home, my sister and I saw a duck sat in the middle of the road. It’s snowing pretty hard and we barely saw it in time to move so we didn’t hit it. I didn’t want him to get hit and I was curious, so my sister and I walked out to him. He didn’t act scared or try to move away which is what made me worried. We tried to shoo him off the street but that didn’t work. So, I went inside and got him some bread to try and lure him off that way. He didn’t even acknowledge it. I assumed he was too cold to do anything. (BTW he was moving his head so I knew he was alive.) he had snow on his beak and back and I know they swim in ice cold water and whatever but he looked cold. I went in and got a towel and picked him up then gave my mom a heart attack by putting him on my bed with me. He still did not care at all. I kept the towel loosely around him and gave him his space so he wasn’t scared then put the bread near him. He sat there for awhile then after all the snow melted off of him, he ate like half a bite of bread and stopped. He doesn’t seem hurt or anything(although I’m no vet and have never even touched a duck before yesterday) Just weirdly calm and unlike any other duck I’ve seen. At this point, I didn’t know if he was okay to go or if I should be doing something else for him but I’d been up for 46 hours and needed to sleep so I put a blanket in a basket with some bread and put him in it with the towel draped over it where he can easily get out. I left him out there overnight. The snow is much worse and he’s still there. I went out and checked on him a few minutes ago and there is a water -looking liquid dripping (A lot) out of his nose. I’m assuming snot but idk if that means there’s something wrong with him or if that’s normal. But now he’s still sitting in the basket and idk what to do. Any suggestions? ?

  4. Gabby says:

    Me and my friend have 2 mallard ducks coming to our house to hang out but sometimes they fly away we want to know where they live can u help? Also there are 2 other mallard ducks that scared them away and they won’t come back they have been coming to our house for almost a year. The ducks that scared them away were younger than them.

  5. Amber says:

    I found a young mallard duck on our farm today.
    It is not fully grown, it still has baby wings and tail.
    Just wondering how to care for and feed it,
    Thank you.

  6. Guin says:

    We have 3.5 week old mallard ducks in our backyard. 8+mom. They have taken over our pool unfortunately but there just isn’t enough food for them in our backyard. We’ve been feeding them but they are very picky. Is this possible? They are wild ducks!

    The only thing they eat are dried mealworms (which they love but expensive), butterhead lettuce floating in water saucer, and watermelon. They love them. I recently bought Mazuri WaterFowl Starter but they don’t touch it. I don’t know if its because I need to put them in water?

    We have tried, cracked corn, chick grits, even wild bird seeds, sunflower seeds (no shell), cereal, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, carrots. They wont’ touch it.

    I wanted to incorporate the Mazuri WaterFowl Starter because buying bags of mealworms gets expensive. Any suggestions on why or how I can get them to start eating the Mazuri? thx

    We have a raccoon and a neighborhood cat that comes around at night but the ducks appear to be safe. They float on what we thought was a deterrent Alligator float. We fixed it in the middle of the pool so they sleep on that. They are now growing feathers and excited for them to fly in a few weeks.

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