What do ducks eat? Six things you can feed ducks

We're on a mission to improve the health of our wild birds across the country. Do you know what you should feed ducks to keep them healthy?

Frozen peas, lettuce and oats Duck food

Can you feed ducks bread?

There are actually a few reasons why you should avoid feeding ducks bread. For starters, bread is not very nutritional for ducks. Can you imagine the health implications if you only ate bread as your diet?

Not only is it not nutritious, bread will attract many other birds and cause overcrowding, which in turn results in an increase in droppings. This can cause further disruption, such as slippery surfaces and possible damage to habitats and waterways.

To find out more, read our article on why is bread bad for ducks?

So what can you feed ducks?

We've put together a list of six different foods that you can use as duck feed, instead of bread.

1. Sweetcorn

It turns out that ducks are quite partial to sweetcorn. Tinned, frozen or fresh. Obviously, remove them from the tin first.

2. Lettuce

As a nation we’re guilty of throwing away a vast amount of lettuce, especially the bagged variety. Instead of consigning it to the bin, rip it into pieces and treat your local ducks. Rocket, kale and iceberg are all great choices.

3. Frozen peas 

There’s no need to cook them but make sure you defrost them first.

4. Oats

Flapjacks, rolled oats and even instant porridge oats will be a huge hit with ducks.

5. Seeds

Whether you buy bird seed or just seeds from the fruit and nut aisle in the supermarket, the ducks will be very grateful for these nutritious nibbles.

6. Rice 

Ducks will appreciate a handful of leftover rice from a takeaway. Just remember to keep the crispy duck all to yourself. You can also use uncooked rice, both are fine.

Ducks on the canal bank

What foods should you avoid?

There are a few foods you should avoid feeding ducks in addition to bread.

1. Crisps

Not just crisps, don't feed ducks any 'junk food'.

2. Popcorn

Popcorn hulls and kernels are difficult for ducks to digest, and they can become lodged in their throat and decay over time.

3. Cornflakes

Cornflakes and other cereals provide very little nutritional value to ducks and are high in sugar and other additives.

4. Citrus fruits

Avoid citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes, as well as other high-acid fruits like mango and pineapple, which can induce digestive issues.

5. Onions and spinach

Spinach can induce egg binding issues in ducks by interfering with calcium production. Onions and related vegetables can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, as well as hemolytic anaemia, which can lead to respiratory illness.

6. Avocados

Avocados are a healthy snack for humans, but they are poisonous to birds, particularly ducks, and can induce heart failure.

More tips for feeding ducks

If you are looking to feed the ducks at your local canal, do it on a rare occasion A few visits here and there are preferable to frequent visits. If you feed them on a regular basis, they are likely to eat too much. Other suggestions include:

  • Ducks do not chew their food. Make sure they are in bite-sized portions so the ducks can eat them easily.
  • If ducks show no interest or leave the food uneaten, stop feeding them. Food that has been left out can soon deteriorate and attract bugs.
  • Be cautious of larger waterfowl like swans and geese, can become violent.
  • Birds and the environment are both harmed by litter; carefully dispose of any rubbish, including bags, twist ties, plastic clips, and other inappropriate or mouldy pieces. Join our #PlasticsChallenge.
  • Allowing pets or children to chase or disturb ducks, especially young birds or families, is prohibited. It may lead the birds to get stressed or injured (to you and the birds).
  • If other guests are already feeding the ducks, don't feed them. Too much food might result in health issues as well as uneaten leftovers.


Regardless of who you feed ducks, try to diversify what you feed them so they don't develop dependant on a one type of food.

There are many other types of food you can use instead, which will cause less overcrowding and a less stressful environment for ducks and swans. Follow our tips, a healthy duck is a happy duck.

Last date edited: 12 May 2022