Are Ducks Pests?
There are many types of ducks around the world. Their species is well adapted to a variety of habitats from tropical to arctic. The common factor among all ducks is that these waterfowl always live near sea water or fresh water. They eat a wide variety of wild foods including fish, frogs, salamanders, crayfish, insects and plants. Some ducks (e.g. mallards) are termed “dabblers”. These sorts of ducks eat food that is easily located on land or at the surface level of the water. Diving ducks are another type which dive under the water to find fish and aquatic plants to eat. There are both domestic ducks and wild ducks, and both types are valuable for the feather down they produce, as well as eggs and meat.
What Do Ducks Look Like?
Among ducks you will see a wide variety of plumage, patterns and coloration. In the United States, one of the most common duck species is the mallard. This is the type of duck that is typically hunted. Male mallards (drakes) have dark brown bodies, white bellies and under-wings, green glossy heads and wide, flat yellow bills. The females (hens) are plainer with brown feathers, speckled with white. The babies are small, yellow and fuzzy and trail neatly after their mother in an orderly line. Another type of duck that is native to Florida, Texas and Mexico is the Muscovy. These ducks have mostly black feathers with some white points. Their beaks are either black or pink. They also have red wattles.
Where Do Ducks Live?
North American ducks typically live near swamps and wetlands, but they can be attracted to any body of fresh water. You will often see them near ponds, lakes and slow-moving rivers and streams. They like to have access to areas that have open, grassy fields because they eat grass and the insects and rodents that live in it. They usually set up their nests adjacent to water. This location makes it easy for the mother duck to find food while staying close by to protect her nest.
Will Ducks Come Into Your Yard?
It almost goes without saying that ducks will not invade your home (unless you keep very friendly and bold pet ducks and leave the door open!) Wild ducks may come into your yard if you have an obvious attraction such as an ornamental pond full of fish, a large expanse of lush grass or an area set up to feed birds. They are birds, after all and will naturally be attracted to an easy food source.
Are Ducks Damaging Or Dangerous?
Ducks are not typically aggressive, unless you bother a hen on the nest. If you are foolish enough to do this, prepare to be pecked. If a large flock of ducks congregates and takes up residence in a water reservoir, pond, field, yard or public park damage and contamination could result. Ducks are notoriously messy birds. They produce copious amounts of droppings that can contaminate the water and simply make a noxious mess on walkways, sporting fields and other areas of human use.
Large flocks of birds of any kind can be hazardous if they congregate on a roadway or at an area such as an airport. This happens occasionally due to bird “fall-out” when flocks are swept to an area by a storm and make an emergency landing in an open area such as a highway or airport tarmac.
Mallard ducks can transmit disease to other types of waterfowl. They have been known to carry fowl cholera and duck plague, so having them around your pond or stock tanks can be rather dangerous to your domestic ducks and geese and to other types of waterfowl.
What To Do About Ducks
Mallards and a number of other migratory species of ducks are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. For this reason, you should not kill them or remove them. The exception to this is that you can hunt them during the specified hunting season. You can discourage ducks from landing on your property by keeping your grass mowed and setting up balloons, scarecrows, fake owls and other devices intended to scare them off. If ducks are a problem, be sure there are no food sources available to them. Spraying them with the water hose may also discourage them. Take heart in the knowledge that ducks are migratory, so if they are visiting you they will leave when the time comes.
Can You Trap Or Remove Ducks?
You can only physically interfere with ducks during designated hunting season. Otherwise, it is unlawful to tamper with their nests, live trap them and release them, harm them or otherwise meddle with them. If ducks are bothering you, you must call in a wildlife specialist such as Buzz Away to assess your situation and devise a safe, humane, legal plan for dealing with your ducks.