The ducks that you see floating serenely on ponds are omnivores. So, of course, it stands to reason that these birds would eat anything, right? Just like humans, who are also omnivores? While that is more to the truth, can you feed ducks popcorn?
So, can ducks eat popcorn? No, you should never feed ducks popcorn. Popcorn is essentially junk food for ducks and has adverse effects on their health. Not to mention that popcorn can be a serious choking hazard for ducks.
There are twenty known representative species of ducks — mallards, domestic, canvasbacks, marbled, black-bellied whistling, alabio, spotted whistling, white-faced whistling, wandering whistling, plumed whistling, West Indian whistling, Fulvous whistling, and the lesser whistling ducks. The answer is the same for all ducks. Ducks should never be fed popcorn.
Ducks eat a variety of things. They are not picky eaters, and they love to partake in junk food as much as the next person, which they really shouldn’t.
The number of things ducks eat would be shorter than the things they are offered by well-meaning humans. Here is a brief comprehensive of what should not be fed to ducks.
What do ducks eat, and what should you not feed them?
Ducks can eat a range of foods – since they spend so much time in the water, it would stand to reason that most of their diet is supplemented by what they find in ponds.
Ponds are abundant in aquatic life, and some of the things that ducks can eat are aquatic plants, algae, frogs, tadpoles, mosquito larvae, small fish and fish eggs, insects, grass blades and weeds, crustaceans like crayfish that can be devoured easily, small amphibians like salamanders, shelled gastropods like snails and mollusks, etc.
Ducks should also be fed grits to help them digest their food.
So you see, there is so much that a duck can safely eat, but there are things they shouldn’t be fed. These food items are usually things that people toss out to them, not knowing how they are harming these birds.
Foods that you shouldn’t feed a duck are
Bread – This one comes as a surprise for many people because you must have seen others tossing bits of fresh bread or pieces of stale or old bread in the pond for the duck. You may have indulged in this yourself. You should never offer bread to ducks – it causes malnutrition and other problems in these birds.
Biscuits or cookies – Biscuits and cookies are essentially junk food for ducks – it adds no nutritional value; instead, bread and bread-based food attracts vermin and pollutes waterways.
Any sort of junk food – Desist from feeding junk food to ducks. Never feed the birds foods like doughnuts, crisps, chips, pretzels, etc. The ducks tend to gain weight on foods that contain little to nutrition, and these foods can grievously hamper growth and development in little ducklings.
And where does popcorn figure in all of this?
Popcorn – a tasty treat, or a fatal threat to their lives?
Popcorn is a favorite snack in many households. As the name suggests, popcorn is corn kernels that are prepared via the air-popping method.
This is a snack that is a whole grain, and whole grains are high in fiber, which is very beneficial for your health. Whole grains have been linked with the decreased risk of acquiring cancer, diabetes, obesity, bowel-related issues, cardiac diseases, etc.
Popcorn, when prepared with the minimum of seasonings, also helps people lose weight. Popcorn creates a sense of fulfillment – you don’t feel as hungry afterward.
However, there are certain downsides to this nutritional snack, too. The accompaniment snack that is prepared in theatres is full of salts, oils, butter, and seasonings that can contain harmful ingredients.
The high amounts of fats and sodium present in popcorn made in advance by these places are not at all good for you. You could get indigestion and gain calories instead of losing them.
So, where do ducks stand in the way of being fed some tasty air-popped corn kernels?
Let’s start off with whether you can give corn to ducks at all. Ducks take a little bit of time to adjust to a new food that their system may not recognize. They may either reject it or have a bit of tummy upset due to indigestion. Mix it with their feed a little at a time.
However, once the ducks have adjusted to the introduction of the new food, corn, in this case, you can continue to mix it up with their usual feed or give it to them as a treat.
Always break down the corn before giving your ducks for consumption. Never feed them big pieces of corn or any other food, for that matter – it can choke your ducks, leading to a miserable and painful death.
Also, make sure that your ducks have access to plenty of grits when you give them corn to eat since corn is so high in fiber. Ducks may face some difficulty in digesting whole grain, so they should have access to plenty of grits to aid their digestion. Ensure that they get lots of pebbles and gravel, not just sand.
What happens when you give popcorn to ducks?
Now, on to the matter of popcorn, and whether ducks can partake of this delightful treat.
It has already been said that ducks cannot eat popcorn – rather, they should not be given any, but why? If these birds can eat whole corn, why not the quintessential popcorn?
Well, for starters, ducks have very narrow throats. Their throats are unable to let bigger pieces of food pass through, which can lead to ducks choking, and even death. Popcorn pieces and uncooked kernels can get stuck in the throat of the duck.
Popcorn is prepared with a bit of oil and butter. This could be detrimental to the health of ducks and their ducklings. Oils that we consume is unhealthy for these birds, and can cause great amounts of molting – that is, the ducks start shedding their fur at an unnaturally high rate.
Another problem ducks face when given popcorn to eat is that the hull of the popcorn and the kernels cannot be digested by these birds. If left undigested, these kernels will fester and putrify, causing infections. Surgery is an option that is too late in these situations.
Ducks have a tendency to fatten up easily, leading to innumerable health problems. Avoid feeding them junk food like popcorn and fried dough-based foods.
Ducks suffer a disorder called bloat if they eat too much junk food – they swell up due to the buildup of gastrointestinal gases caused by the consumption of junk food. This causes discomfort in the stomach and leads to diarrhea. The duck looks ill and unhealthy and becomes lethargic.
Popcorn in floating in water for a long grows mold, and many types of mold are toxic for ducks.
Junk food like popcorn and bread not only makes these birds sluggish and unable to run away from predators but also causes them to form deformities.
Manufactured popcorn has nothing but carbohydrates and a lot of sodium and unnecessary fats and oils. If ducks eat too much of these, they could suffer a deformity known as angel wing. Regardless of what the name suggests, this deformity causes the duck’s wing to stick out, and the duck is unable to fold it and lay it against its body as it should.
Popcorn kernels remain undigested in the duck’s crop, that is, the fluffy part below the neck. Either they are painfully regurgitated, or cause gastrointestinal distress, thereby leading to the duck’s death.
No matter how much popcorn you feed the ducks, since it has next to no nutritional value, the ducks will essentially starve to death gradually.
What Can You Feed The Ducks As A Bystander?
If you really want to feed the ducks at your local pond, do not fret. There’s still so much you can use to feed the ducks.
Some of the things you can give ducks to eat are:
- Grapes that have been sliced
- Duck specialty food
- Mashed up dog food
- Cooked rice
- Diced green vegetables like kale, zucchini, and lettuce (give iceberg lettuce a miss)
- Raw peas
- Age-appropriate commercial duck feed
- Fruits that do not contain citric acid
- Some leftover peels from veggies
- Grits. Lots and lots of grits like pebbles and grainy sands should be available to your duck.
Always keep an eye out for moldy food, and if you see any rotting foods floating merrily towards a flock of these quacking waterfowls, do your best to remove it.
In conclusion, simply avoid feeding junk food to ducks. Popcorns are considered junk for ducks. These should not even be given to the birds as treats. The ducks do not find junk food beneficial, and they will thank you very much to keep it away from them. In short, no, you cannot give ducks popcorn. Check the above-mentioned list of healthy foods that you can feed ducks instead.