Everybody knows what a duck is. They live in the pond at the park and quack a lot. They love to be fed bread, even though actually feeding ducks bread is really bad for them. People love feeding them bread, even though it’s really bad for them, and if some obscurely popular internet videos can be believed, they have an acute desire for grapes.
But that’s beside the point. You’re not here for a description of what a duck is, you’re here for what the best duck is. The difference is like going to Las Vegas in the United States for gambling instead of just doing it online at Intertops casino bonus like a smart person.
So to understand what I mean by finding the best duck I’m going to have to go over some stuff. I’m not just going through specific ducks and trying to find the best one. I’m going through the different species of ducks and deciding which one is the best.
Did you even know there are different species of ducks? I mean, it makes sense. Of course, there would be different species of ducks out there, why wouldn’t there be. But for a while, it was just something I never thought about. I heard duck and thought duck.
But hopefully, with the help from this list you too will no longer feel this way about those quacking, billed, web-footed, water fowl friends that inhabit our local park ponds.
Before I get into that though, I want to bring it back to a comment I made a few paragraphs up. About bread is bad for ducks. I’ve said that to some people and they either don’t care or mention that we’ve been feeding it to ducks for decades at the least and ducks are still around. To which I say yeah, bread isn’t going to make ducks extinct (at least anytime soon) but it sure isn’t healthy for them.
Bread is barely even healthy for us so why would it be for them? And ducks are much smaller than us. Feeding ducks a slice of bread is like feeding a child an entire bag of candy. It’s not going to kill them outright but it sure isn’t healthy for them in the slightest.
If you still want to feed ducks and want something more healthy to give them there are quite a lot of alternatives you can feed them without making them the fattest ducks in the neighborhood. On top of just being fattening, bread has been shown to affect growth in baby ducks. It can cause deformities, greatly lower their life spans, and sometimes cause a specific deformity called Angel Wings which means their wings aren’t capable of flight and therefore they can’t fly. This is greatly detrimental to the birds’ health.
On top of even that other problems arise from feeding ducks. Ducks that get fed consistently by humans start to lose their natural survival and hunting abilities. This means that after a while they become almost completely dependent on humans for their food and survival. This is not good for bird society and survival.
Plus think of what happens to that food that the ducks don’t eat. You keep throwing bread into the lake for the ducks and they don’t eat all of it so some of it floats to the bottom and starts rotting there.
Rotting food can also be detrimental to the health and ecosystem of a pond, especially food that the creatures that normally clean up rotting food usually eat. Rotting bread specifically can start polluting water around it, cause more than normal algae to start forming around it, kill fish through that, and also spread disease from the bacteria that starts thriving on it.
If you really want to feed the ducks here are some actually healthy alternative food you can give them (although only in moderation! You don’t want those ducks to become dependent on your sliced grapes!)
- Grapes, what I said all the way back at the beginning of this article as a joke is quite true. Ducks do actually love grapes. I mean it isn’t surprising, it’s a fruit full of calories and nutrients that a good duck needs to survive. Even though ducks love grapes you shouldn’t just feed them whole grapes, they have teeth for crying out loud. You need to slice those grapes up, like what you do for a small child. Because deep down that’s pretty much what ducks are, small children.
- Rice, ducks can be fed rice and while it’s less healthy than some of the other things on this list it’s still better than bread. Although be warned, ducks can’t eat uncooked rice. It’ll be inedible to them and it might injure or choke them. Make sure you cook the rice before you give it to them. (Old dried out rice is fine for them though, as long as it was cooked at least once)
- Chopped lettuce, ducks can and will eat lettuce as long as it’s not full leaves. Roughly chopped up and those ducks will go to town. It’s very healthy and cheap so feel free to feed this to ducks.
- Grains, most ducks will gladly eat any grains you give them. Oats, barley, and cracked corn is great for them and also better than bread. On top of that if you have any birdseed lying around for any reason ducks will gladly accept that. They are birds after all. Although make sure if you buy live seeds (aka ones that haven’t been dried or crushed or anything like that) so that they can still spread the plants and help out the environment.
- Frozen peas and frozen corn are other great alternatives you can feed ducks, especially if you already have some leftover in your freezer. Both pees and corn are great vegetables for both humans and ducks together. So there really isn’t any reason they can’t eat them instead of bread. You should defrost the pees and corn though, ducks aren’t used to having to eat ice cubes.
- Duck feed pellets. The name should probably explain everything about these. These are made for farmers and people who keep ducks and other waterfowl creatures as pets and want good simple food they can get and feed them. They’re designed with duck health and diet in mind so why not feed them to ducks?
The first duck on our list! The Red-Breasted Merganser. This is a duck native almost in the entirety of Canada. It’s spread across the majority of the country, along with Alaska and a small part of Northern Michigan USA.
The only part in Canada that the Red-Breasted Merganser isn’t found is a small chunk in the southwestern part of it.
While it lives most of the year in those places the Red-Breasted Merganser is a migrating bird and migrates south for the winter. The Red- Breasted Merganser migrates almost exclusively to coastal locations. Usually, this means the entirety of both the western and eastern Continental United States coastlines.
On top of that some Red-Breasted Mergansers have been seen as far south as the Texas coast and the Gulf of Mexico during the winter.
The reason Red-Breasted Mergansers are on this list isn’t because they migrate to coastal regions in the winter or because they live as far north as the southern tip of Greenland. It’s because they have killer Mohawks.
Red-Breasted Mergansers have feathers that spike up on the back of their heads that looks uncannily like a Mohawk and is more than reason enough to google a picture of them.
Stellers Eider is another duck that lives far north. It’s native to Alaska and far Eastern Russia. They’re coastal birds and spend most of the year on the northern coasts of both places before moving downwards to the southern coasts for the winter.
Male Steller Eiders heads are quite bright white. Not quite as bright as a swan or something like that but still bright. The rest of their body is a mix of white and black. Because of the fact that the spots around their eyes are black along with under their chin and other places around their head it gives the look of a duck wearing a white ski mask.
Almost like a raccoon these ducks look they’re getting ready to rob a bank or mug you. Probably both.
Sadly the Steller Eider is a very endangered species. With only around 200,000 Steller Eiders remaining in the world. Their population has declined almost fifty percent since the 1960s and scientists aren’t entirely sure why.
The biggest leading belief is due to lead and other heavy metal pollution in their waters killing them off.
White Winged Scoter
The White Winged Scoter lives most in mainland Canada away from most coasts. Being an inland duck already makes it different than the other ducks on this list. Although during the summer the White Winged Scoter travels south down to the coasts of Continental United States where it dives for fish and other sea creatures for food.
White Winged Scoters are completely black except for the inside of their wings which are, as the name suggests, white. This makes them one of the easiest ducks to identify in flight. This is aided by the fact that they are one of the largest duck species out there.
At almost two feet long these are pretty big ducks.
The King Eider is another Eider like the Steller Eider but instead the King Eider. The King Eider is another really big duck. They’re about as long as the White Winged Scoter but on top of being long, they are also quite wide.
This is mostly because they’re fat. Living the farthest north out of any of the ducks mentioned, almost in the Arctic Sea itself, it needs that mass to stay warm. They spend most of the year this far north until they head south to Canadian coastlines for winter.
As for looks, they have a surprising resemblance to pelicans. This is mostly aided by the bright beak and the bright yelled feathers around it. Along with the way it lumps these are pelican like birds.
The most impressive thing about King Eider is how they catch food. They don’t fish on the surface like most other ducks. Instead, they dive. This isn’t that unusual either among ducks since there is an entire category of ducks that dive for food.
But the King Eider dives almost 180 feet down for its food. That’s almost fifty five meters down below the waves for food.
Obviously, that’s far deeper than any of these other birds ever attempt when going for food. Most diving ducks go at most to a depth of fifty feet when diving for food, which isn’t close to the staggering one hundred and eighty feet of the King Eider. There’s a reason this duck gets to be King.
The Mallard duck is the duck. This is probably the duck that lives in your park’s ponds, or you regularly see every summer when it heads south. This duck isn’t stuck just to the coast lives across the entire continental United States and Canada almost year round.
They have their signature bright yellow beaks and green heads which make them almost instantly recognizable anywhere. The Mallard Duck has also been one of the few ducks that have been domesticated for farming.
This was possible among the Mallard because a lot of them, especially if they live in the United States, don’t migrate during the winter. So you don’t have to worry about your entire farm flying off when it starts getting cold.
Obviously, this is an important factor when domesticating an animal. Another factor that greatly helps is that unlike a lot of other duck species, Mallards don’t eat a lot of fish or other sea creatures. They survive mostly off of vegetables and seeds like other birds.
This means you don’t have to worry about live feed when you have a farm of them.