This Week In Zoology: Ducks

Tis the season for watching little ducklings following their mothers around in your local park pond. There are few things in this world that are cuter than a baby duck, amirite? Many of you will also have fond memories of feeding those ducks in the park as children, some of you will even have fond memories of feeding them as adults, because there is just something oddly satisfying about feeding cute passive animals and watching them gobble it up.

Well, feeling like I’ll be emulating Adam Ruins Everything here, I’m going to have to ruin ducks for you. Both the fond memories of feeding them, and their image as cute, passive, quacky little paddling angels.

If you really do actually like ducks though, I urge you to keep reading, at least the first part, lest you want to fall into the trap of anthropocentrism and do them far more harm than good.


I’m sure you guessed what I’m going to say for the first part of this post right?

Please, everyone, stop feeding the damned ducks.

Actually, that is not entirely accurate. What I meant to say, is

Please stop feeding the ducks white bread

I cannot tell you how bad this is for the ducks you think you’re “helping”. They may gobble up the bread in apparent enjoyment, but it is doing them more harm than you can imagine. But hey, images say it best, right? So here are a few of the damage you are inadvertently causing:



That goose looks funny, right? Let the meme explain




Ducks can die due to infection, increased predation, cold and malnutrition, or grow with serious deformities, all because we insist on feeding them bread.

All is not lost though! You don’t have to forgo feeding the ducks completely, you just have to change what it is you are feeding them. There is a list, including oats, birdseed, mealworms, and chopped lettuce. Still try to avoid overdoing it, though, as any leftover food can still rot and promote bacterial growth.

So, that takes care of the first part. Now comes the second, wackier side.

If you want to cling to their image as passive, meditative angelic creatures, stop reading now.

Seriously, this part is not for your children’s ears

OK, I warned you!

The fact is, ducks are known for having some pretty out there sexual habits.

Nowadays, homosexuality in the animal kingdom is something that is well documented and widely accepted. However, initially, Zoologists were hesitant to record such acts because they doubted what they were seeing. In the 90s, Zoologists started cottoning on and documenting this behaviour, and Kees Moeliker was no exception, when he watched a male duck get it on for 75 minutes with another duck which was not only male, but dead. Who wouldn’t want to author a paper with such a fabulous title as The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard!

Duck sex is not only limited to the homosexual and necrophiliac varieties. Ducks are also fond of the “gang rape” model, where several males will fly after an unwilling female, until one manages to grab her and mount her. Their corckscrew-shaped penises make it very hard for her to get away after that.

So there you have it. Ducks, great fun to feed, kinky bastards in the sheets.


  1. Kreator says

    I hope no religious fundamentalists read this post. They will start feeding ducks bread just to punish them for their “deviancy!”

    On a serious note, I wonder: do pigeons have the same problem, or are they better at digesting the stuff?

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      It’s an interesting question. The fact that ducks eat water-logged bread, and in much greater quantities, certainly makes it far worse in terms of bacterial growth and essentially filling their bellies with useless food when it could otherwise be filled with nutritious stuff. The thing about pigeons is that live in cities is that they are eating ALL KINDS of very dirty crap, how many of their problems are due to white bread specifically, versus all the other nasty bacteria-riddled garbage they peck at and walk through? Do pigeons really eat that much bread when compared to ducks when they are fed on a daily basis by children? It’s hard to say.

  2. Karen Locke says

    Ducks are passive? News to me. A few jobs ago, co-workers and I used to sometimes pick up deli sandwiches at lunchtime and go to a nearby park that had a little artificial stream… and a collection of mallard ducks. We’d find a bench to sit on for lunch, and enjoy the scenery, until the ducks found us. The females were more aggressive than the males. They’d come right up to us, approach within a couple of feet, and quack expectantly. To their dismay, we never fed them. Turkey on sourdough does not make for healthy duck food.

    Geese are worse. My undergrad university had a creek flowing through it, and a large lawn area next to the creek for picnicking. Nice days would find the place crowded with students, and geese working the crowd. They would charge right up to the people, demanding food; if you weren’t quick enough to offer it, they would peck it from your hands.

    Of course, these aren’t wild behaviors, they’re conditioned by exposure to people feeding the animals. But still, I don’t think of these birds as passive!

  3. naturalcynic says

    My sister used to have mallards as pets and I remember that they did a really good job of keeping the yard snail and slug free. And they really liked melons, especially watermelon. They would eat the rinds down to the skin. And they were good at fly catching, unfortunately they attracted a lot of them with their poop.

  4. kestrel says

    Great post! I looked up duck penises just for my enlightenment. I knew that my chickens and canaries don’t have a penis so I was interested to learn that some groups of birds do have one.

    I kept waterfowl for a short time but certainly did not feed them bread. I remember the feed for them was not cheap! I’m even very careful what I feed the chickens. There are some foods that are great for us and not so great for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *