Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tiki tour to: the ducks

Tiki tour (New Zealand slang) 1. A sight-seeing journey with no particular destination in mind 2. Taking the scenic route to a destination 3. To wander aimlessly. source

I spent a good part of my childhood feeding the ducks at Virginia Lake. Like most people we took bread along for them. The ice cream shop across the road from the lake even sold 'duck bread'. When Miss K was 2, we visited the lake with my Dad and she and 'Poppa' fed the ducks together.

Virginia lake. NZ photo source
I discovered this weekend that over the years, we probably weren't doing the ducks any favors by feeding them bread.
The Piwi's wanted to feed the ducks at the nearby pond. Miss K was concerned that they would be hungrier because of the recent drop in temperature. I didn't have any old bread, so we searched google for alternative duck fodder.

The Piwi's hang out with the hungry ducks
I came across What Should I feeds the Ducks on my lake? by the Northern prairie wildlife research center. Apparently Bread is Duck junk food. While they enjoy it as much as we humans probably like donuts, it is not high enough in protein for them. Extra Protein is especially important for female ducks producing eggs and ducklings growing in the spring. If we really want to feed ducks in the wild then it should be high protein duck feed from a local bird store.

We were really intrigued by this caramel colored duck. He seemed to be the alpha duck
Another article by Melissa Mayntz points out also that feeding ducks can also change their behavior. THe ducks are likely to become more tame and too trusting of humans and vechiles. They may also become aggressive in their pursuit of carb loaded treats. This certainly rings true for the ducks at our local pond. These guys literally greet you at the front gate in the hope you have food. Ms. Mayntz had some other healthier suggestions such as cooked rice and thawed frozen peas. Thankfully we had some old rice in the fridge. I feel a bit guilty that I didn't think harder about this before. At least now we know to stop feeding bread. However, I suspect they won't be greeting us as the gate anymore. Rice wasn't that popular.

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