Make Way For and Feed the Ducklings

by Meghan

Sharing is caring!

The iconic children’s classic, Make Way for Ducklings, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. It has inspired a love of ducks in generations of children. And the desire to interact with ducks in public parks everywhere. How many of you went to feed the ducks as a child, and have taken your own children to as well? But do you actually know what to feed ducks? Turns out, it shouldn’t be that stale bread from the pantry.

For generations, children have been reading Make Way for Ducklings, inspiring countless trips to the local pond to feed and visit the ducks. What most don't know is that bread and crackers are the worst food to feed these birds. Learn why and what you should feed ducks, along with a healthy homemade duck feed recipe | Ducks | Children's Books | Robert McClosky | Preschool |

Let’s Go Feed the Ducks!

For generations, families have read Make Way for DucklingsAnd for 75 years, it has inspired families to go visit and feed the ducks in their local parks and waterways. I know as a kid, a stale loaf of bread was the driving force behind a trip to go feed the ducks.  But did you know that is one of the worst things to feed these birds?

What to Feed Ducks

As it turns out, the very foods that most people feed to ducks: bread, crackers, popcorn, chips and other low nutrition carbohydrates – are the worst foods for ducks.  Bread and other white carbohydrates are filling without providing adequate nutrition.  If ducks and other birds over consume these foods, they won’t eat enough of the nutrients they need for proper growth and development. And you should absolutely never feed them moldy or spoiled bread as some molds can actually kill ducks.

What to Feed Ducks-FEATURED2

So what should you feed to ducks? Just like for people, whole grains and vegetables carry higher nutritional value and are better for ducks.  Corn, whole wheat, barley, oats, rice, salad greens, peas, cut vegetables are all better alternatives to bread and crackers. Bird seed and duck pellets, purchased from a pet or animal feed store are great as well, but not absolutely necessary.

Homemade Duck Feed

While you can certainly purchase bird seed or duck feed from an animal supply store, you can still go feed the ducks with food from your own kitchen.  Just skip the bread.  To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Make Way for Ducklings, the girls and I made homemade duck feed using the simple recipe below:

2 cups Old Fashioned Quaker Oats
1 cup brown rice
1 bag frozen assorted vegetables (peas, corn, carrots and green beans)

What to Feed Ducks-2

The girls had great fun mixing their homemade duck feed in a bucket, and couldn’t wait to go feed the ducks!

What to Feed Ducks-3What to Feed Ducks-4

A Trip to the Duck Pond

Our town center actually has a Duck Pond, home to ducks, Canadian geese and assorted other geese, that the girls and I like to call ‘fairy tale geese’ because they look like the geese in Cinderella!

What to Feed Ducks-8I recommend holding the bucket yourself, and letting the kids use small cups or grab a handful of feed to toss at a time.  Often, once the birds see food, especially if they are used to being fed, they may surround the food source and can get aggressive at times.

What to Feed Ducks-SQUARE

Once our bucket of homemade duck feed was empty, we stepped back and watched the ducks and geese gobble it up! The girls had a blast and can’t wait to feed the ducks again.

What to Feed Ducks Collage

Happy 75th to Make Way For Ducklings

If you enjoyed our Homemade Duck Feed recipe, be sure to check out these other fun activities inspired by Make Way for Ducklings too!

Make Way for Ducklings Book Activity for Preschoolers | Sunny Day Family
Make Way for Ducklings Busy Bag | Craftulate
Make Way For Ducklings ABC Activity |Growing Book by Book
Catch a Duckling Fine Motor Skills Game | Learning Toy Guide

Celebrate the 75th anniversary of Make Way for Ducklings, the children's classic by Robert McCloskey, with these 5 fun hands-on learning activities inspired by this favorite book! | Toddlers | Preschool | Children's Books | Ducks |

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy this Montessori Animal Match activity for Toddlers and Sewing Buttons for Corduroy, another iconic children’s classic!

Love it? Pin THIS!

For generations, children have been reading Make Way for Ducklings, inspiring countless trips to the local pond to feed and visit the ducks. What most don't know is that bread and crackers are the worst food to feed these birds. Learn why and what you should feed ducks, along with a healthy homemade duck feed recipe | Ducks | Children's Books | Robert McClosky | Preschool |

Sharing is caring!


More to love on Playground Parkbench


Make Way for Ducklings Busy Bag - Craftulate January 2, 2023 - 7:25 pm

[…] What Ducks Eat: How to Make Healthy Homemade Duck Feed | Playground Parkbench […]

Printable Family Summer Bucket List - Creative Family Fun June 3, 2019 - 9:12 am

[…] Feed the ducks. But, don’t feed them bread! Here’s a better option for duck food at Playground Park Bench. […]

Anna July 15, 2018 - 9:48 am

As a duck lover and raising my own flock of ducks, I just wanted to share that my understanding is uncooked rice can be very harmful to ducks and especially chickens. So if others are following this recipe, i would recommend cooking the rice first, or avoiding it all together or Substituting another ingredient like sunflower seeds. Thanks for understanding!

Meghan July 16, 2018 - 6:21 pm

There are lots of views on this – however, my understanding is that uncooked rice is safe for birds and less likey to attract other vermin. Here’s another site for reference:

Ways to Play Every Day-April Activity Calendar for #Preschoolers • The Preschool Toolbox Blog April 1, 2018 - 6:29 pm

[…] Go to a local pond and feed the ducks: This can be a very fun activity. Just remember that bread is not safe for ducks. Instead, feed them canned corn (drained and rinsed), lettuce, duck pellets, or chicken feed. More ideas on feeding ducks here. […]

Just Ducks: Nature Walk and Book Series » Live Love Learn Gracefully June 23, 2017 - 5:02 am

[…] homemade duck feed and discuss what it appropriate to feed ducks and what is […]

Michelle May 12, 2017 - 9:11 am

Do you have to cook the rice?

Meghan May 12, 2017 - 10:14 am

We did not cook the rice first.

Donna March 29, 2017 - 9:11 am

Is the rice uncooked?
Thank you for this!!! 🙂

Meghan March 29, 2017 - 12:15 pm

Yes, we used uncooked rice

Make Way For Ducklings - Story Time Activities - My Joy-Filled Life March 2, 2017 - 1:28 pm

[…] Feed the Ducks with Duck Food Recipe from Playground Park Bench […]

Teresa May 18, 2016 - 6:57 pm

I love your blog and understand the idea behind this post. And I am submitting this with the utmost respect, but encouraging people to feed wild ducks and geese can be detrimental to the animals you are trying to help. As someone who worked for our state wildlife agency before having a family and is married to a trained wildlife biologist, I’d like to encourage you to educate people to find a different way to interact with ducks instead of feeding them. I’m totally not trying to be a buzzkill, but feeding wildlife can have impacts you might never have thought of. Yes, your recipe is much better for them than a loaf of Wonder bread, but there are still tremendous drawbacks to feeding ducks and geese.

Feeding wildlife, including ducks and geese is actually against the law in some places, and discouraged in others. Why, you might ask? Ducks/geese/birds/squirrels, etc., can pose a disease risk when they congregate in large public areas. Their feces are the largest problem, with a single Canada goose having the ability to poop every 20 minutes and leave up to a pound and a half of feces scattered about EVERY DAY. In an area where large groups of them gather, you can see the effect that begins to have. Their feces get in the grass, on the sidewalks in local parks, in the water, etc. Cities/counties all over the country spend millions of tax dollars dealing with this issue each year. When you feed them you encourage the ducks and geese to linger in these places, spreading more feces. And you encourage them to congregate in numbers the habitat cannot support. Not only is it a human health concern, this massive fecal load is harmful to the ducks and geese and other wildlife has caused massive bird die offs in areas.

You are also making the ducks and geese dependent on an unnatural, outside food source. They don’t leave because it is too easy to find food from the public. They stick around in areas instead of migrating. This can cause them to get caught in weather they aren’t not prepared for and stress the birds to the point of death. Also, the volume of people feeding them declines in the winter months, so there are less handouts available. Because they’ve lost the desire to forage for their own food, many birds will slowly starve to death, or start getting into trouble in area yards, trash, etc.

Also, feeding wild animals encourages them to lose their fear of humans. This might sound like a good thing, but it’s not. They can become aggressive with pets and kids, often requiring wildlife officials to euthanize these animals to keep the public safe. They congregate in high traffic areas, putting themselves at risk to get hit by bikes and cars or get attacked by dogs or other vermin. I’ve been on dozens of these calls where our wildlife officers had to go capture and euthanize the birds.

The uneaten bread, seeds, corn, etc. can also cause damage to the environment. Uneaten foodstuffs causes algal blooms, allows bacteria to breed and attracts mice and other vermin. That’s not the stuff you want in your local parks!

It sounds like you are an animal lover, so I hope you’ll realize that what seems like a benign act of fun for us as people can have some fatal ramifications for the wildlife. I know that’s not your intent, because you obviously cared enough to make them healthier food.

Here are some better options:
-Leave all the food at home and just go to observe the ducks, geese and other birds at your local pond. Talk to your kids about how it might be fun to feed the ducks and geese, but it’s much healthier and safer for them if we encourage them to be wild animals.
-Find a zoo or farm petting zoo to attend where you can feed the ducks in a safer environment. This way, you get the fun of feeding the birds, but in a controlled environment with domesticated animals vs. wildlife. You aren’t habituating wildlife to people, but still enjoying a day with the birds!

If you really love wild ducks and geese, do them a favor and stop feeding them.

A great video on this subject is available at

Meghan May 18, 2016 - 7:51 pm

Teresa, thank you so much for your knowledgeable insights. I truly value them, and definitely did not appreciate the ramifications. Thank you for sharing.

Nicoa May 16, 2016 - 6:47 am

To be honest we have always taken bread. Next time we wlil have to mix up this recipe instead. Thanks for the helpful information.

Meghan May 16, 2016 - 1:10 pm

When I told my husband we went to feed the ducks, the first thing he said was, “Oh did you take the bread?” So you are not alone!

Georgina May 13, 2016 - 12:45 pm

How wonderful! Pinning to my “feed the birds!” board!

Meghan May 14, 2016 - 9:48 am

Thanks so much Georgina!

Jodie May 13, 2016 - 8:51 am

This is great on so many levels. It teaches kids about animals and caring for them. Plus, the kids get to be active in the kitchen. Love it!

Meghan May 13, 2016 - 10:13 am

Thanks Jodie! They had a blast – at the end of everyday, I always ask them what their favorite thing was, and it was definitely feeding the ducks that day. They keep asking when we can go again.


Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.