Feeding The Ducks At William Land Park 

Feeding Ducks At William Land Park

Feeding Waterfowl Nutritious Foods

I started this list for a friend, and because I often get asked about this.

The best foods are those that provide the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins the birds need for healthy growth and development. Many of these foods are similar to the natural insects, mollusks, seeds, grains, and plants the birds will forage for on their own. 

Always avoid any foods that come salted, or with added flavoring, spices, or sweeteners.

At McKinley Park

Appropriate signage for Land Park would be very helpful.

If you’re going to be –
Feeding Ducks and Geese At Land Park

Good Nutritious Foods Are Best

Cracked corn

Wheat, barley, or similar grains

Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick)

Rice (plain white or brown, cooked or uncooked)

Milo seed

Birdseed (any type or mix)

Grapes (cut in half or quartered if very large)

Nut hearts or pieces (any type but without salt, coatings, or flavoring)

Frozen peas or corn (DEFROSTED, no need to cook)

Earthworms (fishing bait or dug from the garden)

Mealworms (fresh or dried)

Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes

Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped into small pieces)

Cracked corn consists of corn kernels that have been dried and broken into smaller pieces. Easy to consume, and a favorite among different bird species.

Peas are another easy option that are quick to come by. Be sure to thaw any frozen vegetables first before feeding waterfowl. (Ducks and Geese)

Lettuce, goes a long way with ducks. Lettuce leaves can be ripped into smaller pieces and are easy for the ducks to catch and swallow and digest. (Also spinach or kale)

Instant oats: Uncooked, organic oats are another easy treat for ducks. Use plain oats that aren’t coated with sugar or sweeteners. 

Rice (cooked or uncooked) is another great option that ducks like, and it’s an easy food to spread around.

Or one can purchase:

Seeds: If you can afford to go to a wild bird store or co-op, duck-friendly seeds are an excellent choice.

Pellets: Pellets are another good choice when it comes to foods that are geared toward a duck’s natural diet. They can be purchased in various sizes and quantities, depending on the type of ducks you plan to feed.


NEVER feed waterfowl onions, garlic, or potatoes….

Cut The Grapes, Chop The Greens And Chop The Nuts

For vegetables, the most important consideration is making sure that the bits and pieces you offer are small enough for waterfowl to handle. Ducks and their relatives aren’t great at chewing—while their bills help break down food, they don’t have teeth, at least in the traditional sense. 

Cut salad greens, vegetable peels, nuts, grapes, and other produce into small pieces before you toss them to these birds.


Corn contains vitamins A and C, which work together to maintain the health of the ducks. It also contains calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for a healthy duck’s body and egg quality. 

Flaxseed is a great option for feeding many waterfowl species. It is non-fat, and does not pose a choking hazard to birds. It is a source of essential nutrients and is highly digestible. These nutty seeds are rich in omega 3 and 6, two essential fatty acids for birds. Wild ducks can benefit greatly from flaxseed in the winter, when they are searching for food in scarce quantities.

Oats, Steel Cut Oats

When feeding wild ducks, oats are an excellent choice. The grain is easily digestible by ducks and helps to build their immune systems. Oats are high in manganese, which stabilizes free radicals in their bodies and helps maintain bone health. Oats also contain high amounts of fiber, which ducks like.

A low-calorie food choice, it is high in protein and vitamins, making it the perfect food to feed wild ducks. Oats are very nutritious, and steel-cut oats, also known as Irish oatmeal, are the least processed and contain high beta-glucan.


Wild ducks and geese feed on a variety of grains and grasses, aquatic plants, and invertebrates, all naturally found in the wild. When eaten in combination, these foods are nutritionally balanced and provide everything a wild duck or goose needs to survive.

But, foods often fed to waterfowl in public parks, such as bread, crackers, popcorn, and corn, are low in protein and essential nutrients and minerals (such as calcium and phosphorus).

Waterfowl in public parks are often admitted to wildlife rehabilitation centers with metabolic bone disease (MBD). Birds with MBD have incredibly soft bones and joints that are often malformed and fractured; these injuries are caused by an overall calcium deficiency in the body, which is linked to an inappropriate diet. 

Calcium also plays a crucial role in the formation of eggs/offspring, clotting ability, cardiovascular and neuromuscular function, and a variety of other metabolic activities. 

Allowing ducks and geese to find their own wild, nutritionally balanced diet is best – for the health of waterfowl and the surrounding environment.

Some foods that mimic the waterfowl’s natural diet – greens and insects are: Chopped up greens like kale, collards, and dandelion greens (only from pesticide-free yards) are the most nutritious. 

Ducks and geese eat insects too, so a special treat of mealworms or freeze-dried crickets would also likely be enjoyed!  

But the bottom line is that wild ducks and geese should be able to find plenty of food on their own – so if you can resist the temptation to feed, simply pack your binoculars and camera and enjoy watching the birds.


There you have it.

Adapted data, source linked.

There are a dozen goslings in this photo taken May 1, 2022.

The latter part of April and into May are the seasonal times of ducklings and goslings at Land Park. They live in groups called gaggles! Please be respectful of their family space and keep dogs on their leash close by you!

Updated May 29, 2022

Emergent Vegetation and Forage Opportunities 

Springtime is a time of new growth, new shoots, emergent vegetation, and newborns. Many forage plants (especially natives) are nutritious, but broad-leafed greens (the kind you and the wildlife probably want to eat) may be targeted for spraying.

They spray parks in springtime….

Ducks  and geese like to eat plants, but they especially like to eat them when the plants are young and tender. The bills of Canada geese are adapted for grasping and snipping new shoots of grasses, leaves, and stems.

There are a wide variety of native plants and non-native plants – called weeds – that ducks and geese will happily manage within a park. And just maybe the waterfowl won’t be so hungry for the cheap white bread fed to them by visitors to Sacramento Area Parks.



*Miner’s Lettuce




*Purslane – a highly nutritious plant sold at nurseries in the Sacramento area, and found in parks, was written about in the Sacramento Union in 1893.

*Wild Strawberries – which grow easily in neighborhoods and Parks in the Sacramento area.

*Wild Violets 

Ducks need a variety of plants and insects in their daily diets. The compounds in weeds and bugs keep them healthy giving hens the ability to lay nutritious eggs filled with a plethora of vitamins, omegas, and minerals. 

Ducks forage for slugs along with snails, pill bugs or sow bugs, cabbage worms, and more. When foraging for food among taller, well-established plants, ducks may tend to leave the vegetation alone in preference to the insects. 

As other community voices in the Greater Sacramento Area have noted:

“Spring is fast approaching. In the Sacramento Valley, that means the greens are up, trees are flowering, and very soon, young, tender leaves will be found among the vines. Sadly, this time of year is also spray-time for many… Cities and counties, school districts and parks departments, too, begin pest management programs, which often include spraying for insects as well as the plants….”


If it were really necessary to remove the vegetation around the base of trees at William Land Park, or Curtis Park, it could be done by hand. Add up the costs of the spray truck, spray equipment, gas, oil, maintenance, the cleaning required after every use, certification level required for applicator license and storage, PPE, etc., and compare that, to a few hand tools, gloves, and a crew of just a few, who spend the day in Sacramento Area Parks, taking care of the Trees!

Cultivate Culture and Nurture Nature

Tom DiFiore

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Tom DiFiore

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