Feeding Waterfowl

Feeding ducks and other waterfowl can be fun, but when you feed waterfowl – you are actually making the water foul.

Waterfowl are a part of the natural ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest and feed on of invertebrates, duck_1vegetation, and even fish depending on the species. Ducks and geese that are fed by humans produce a substantially larger amount of feces than they would naturally. Excessive nutrients from waterfowl feces contributes to poor water quality and the spread of bacteria like fecal coliform that can make people sick. Feeding waterfowl a steady diet of “human food” like bread, popcorn or other starchy foods can actually make them sick because of the lack of nourishment  in these foods. It may be fun to feed the birds down at the local beach or pond, but it’s really not good for the birds or the water quality of our local waterways.

What you can do to help

  • It’s perfectly fine to watch and enjoy the ducks and geese at a local park, pond, or lake, but please don’t feed them or encourage others to feed them. Waterfowl are better left to feed on their natural diet of plants, fish, and invertebrates.
  • If you have property with land that backs up to a lake or pond and have a problem with geese, consider keeping your lawn a few feet away from the water’s edge and planting low-growing bushes near the shore. Geese in particular seek out lawns as places to feed and rest, but avoid lawns that have bushes near their water source because of the potential for predators to conceal themselves within the foliage.
  • For a non-lethal way to scare waterfowl away from your house and lawn, consider buying automatic noise making devices or setting up eyespot balloons or other visual deterrents (examples are provided in the “More Info” section below). When waterfowl are pestered or disturbed by noise making devices or visual deterrents over time, they will eventually leave the area and find a more peaceful place to be.

More Info

If you would like more information on this subject, follow the links or review the informational material duck_2below:


Return to Stormwater Education Page