Ducks are common throughout the world, with natural habitats ranging from arctic to tropical. Aquatic birds, ducks live near fresh or sea water where they mostly eat plants, insects, and small amphibians. Dabblers, such as mallards, feed on food found near the surface of the water or on land. Diving ducks submerge themselves in water to get at aquatic plants and catch fish. Across North America, ducks are commonly hunted and farmed for their meat, eggs, and downy feathers.
There are many types of ducks with varied colorations and patterns on their plumage. One of the most common species of duck found in the United States is the mallard. Male mallards, known as drakes, have glossy green heads, broad yellow bills, and white feathers on their wings and bellies. Female mallards, known as hens, are speckled brown and white. Baby ducks are fuzzy and yellow, and follow the mother wherever she goes. In Texas and Florida, Muscovy ducks, native to Mexico and South America, have black and white feathers over their bodies, pink or black beaks, and red wattles.
Mallards and other similar North America duck species typically live near wetlands but can nest wherever suitable sources of fresh water are found, such as lakes, ponds, or gently running rivers. Ducks also like spaces with large, open fields and plenty of grass to eat. Nesting sites are often situated near the water and are protected by the mother ducks.
Are ducks known to enter homes or yards?
Wild ducks do not enter houses because they prefer open spaces where they can swim or fly away if startled. However, some ducks are kept as pets. Wild ducks may enter yards while searching for tender grass or vegetation to eat. Additionally, setting out food for the birds entices them to come by regularly.
Do ducks harm people or property?
While ducks do not attack people, they tend to gather in flocks, and the damage they do to property may be considerable. Yards, fields, public parks, ponds, and water reservoirs become damaged by massive amounts of duck feces. The droppings make open spaces, ponds, and sporting fields unpleasant or unsuitable to human use. More serious problems arise when droppings contaminate ponds and other water sources.
Flocks of ducks also create safety issues at airports and roadways by blocking traffic. Mallards are known to transmit diseases, such as duck plague and fowl cholera, to other waterfowl, which makes them a danger to other native populations of birds and livestock.
Control and Safety
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects mallards and most other species of migratory ducks in the United States from being killed or removed during most of the year. One of the best forms of population control is state and federally regulated hunting seasons. Furthermore, frightening the birds away is an effective means of nonlethal control. Using scarecrows and balloons or spraying the birds with hoses will disturb them and cause them to leave. The simplest way to discourage ducks from coming onto property is to eliminate food sources by discontinuing feeding and allowing grass to grow longer, making access to edible shoots more of a challenge.
Trapping and Removal
Trapping, killing, and removing mallards is prohibited outside of designated hunting seasons, and tampering with nests, harming ducks, or releasing live-caught specimens are all considered federal offences. As such, infestations of ducks should be dealt with by wildlife specialists. Call the technicians at Critter Control to safely, humanely, and legally remove duck populations.