Close to where we live there is a lovely park that includes a small pond. I don't know for how many years this female mallard duck has been raising her young at this location. This year she has seven ducklings, one of which is a runt. Of course the runts of the litter are the cutest, have to try harder and sometimes need that extra push or assistance in competing with its siblings. We always keep an eye out for this runt from this particular brood.
The pond is not big, it has vegetation but I don't think it has a lot of different food sources that a flowing creek would offer. Seeing these seven ducklings and mom brings out the maternal instincts in me and I have been offering them different food on a daily basis. I never before thought of raiding the fridge to see what morsels would tempt ducks. My DH even googled to see what these critters would prefer. Well, we found out over the course of a week that they have particular tastes - they don't always subscribe to what google says.
From our daily offerings, I found out they like bread of course. You have to tear the bread into very small pieces as they will not attempt to eat it if you throw them chunks. Small bills and small mouths. They like my homemade olive bread and will eat healthy whole grain bread. I made hard boiled eggs, chopped them and took care to not mash them. To my astonishment, they turned up their bills. The dog enjoyed the eggs. I chopped up organic baby greens used for salads and carted the small bag to the pond. Again, rejection by the ducklings. The dog was not interested in this leftover. I made extra organic basmati brown rice one night beyond what I needed for supper, thinking that the ducklings might like a change in their menu. Again, they turned up their noses. There is about half of cup of rice left on the bottom of the pond. I think that the salamanders in the pond also turned up their noses at the rice. We took samples of our Koi fish food pellets out to the ducklings. Again, no interest. Then my DH went shopping determined to find something with more protein than bread. So he bought Koi fish food flakes as they are light and maybe easier to eat than pellets. The ducklings turned up their bills to the offering. This morning after getting fortified with coffee (a skinny vanilla latte for me), we went to one of the local pet stores. We looked at containers of live crickets and mealy worms. I know that the dog wouldn't go for these leftovers. I wasn't too excited about this prospect. Close by we spied two small containers of freeze dried plankton and freeze dried shrimp. After departing with $20 at the cash we drove to the park and walked to the pond with our latest offerings of food. It is a miracle, they sampled and ate this freeze dried food. The duckling runt was busy eating and appeared to be much more of a hustler than his/her siblings.
For the next month, until the ducklings get big enough to fly, we will be making daily or twice a day offerings of freeze dried plankton and shrimp. So if you plan to feed your own ducklings, keep to the bread, it is easier. Until next time.....