A Christmas quacker

Australian Shelduck. Photo: Helen Cunningham.

Australian Shelduck.

Image: Helen Cunningham

Our Christmas gift this year goes to our native ducks. We’re shining a light on the best ways to care for and enjoy them to help keep them healthy and safe.
With 11 native ducks in Tasmania, many regularly visit the timtumili minanya / Derwent Estuary. Like humans, they rely on an excellent balanced and nutrient-rich diet to stay healthy.

People love feeding ducks, but did you know the harm this can cause them and our environment? 

Human foods can cause illness and deformities and can never match the nutrients they get through their natural diets. They can become reliant on this feeding cycle and lose their ability to forage. Human food also leads to more duck poo, which can cause water pollution and algal blooms.

One of the biggest concerns of feeding ducks is that it provides the introduced Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) with a stable food source. This encourages their population growth, which significantly impacts the health and survival of the native Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa). The bigger and more aggressive Mallard is pushing out the native ducks and cross-breeding with them to create fertile hybrids.

This is putting the Pacific Black Duck at risk of extinction.

So, how do we care for the ducks?

Go on a duck date! Get to know the different duck species and be entertained by their unique antics and beautiful feathers. As native ducks are shy, don’t forget your binoculars.

Let them forage, not feed. Enjoy watching the delightful way ducks dabble and dive for their dinner. The only way to keep them healthy is not to feed them food or water.

Keep furry friends on a lead. Keeping your dog on a lead is the best way to avoid potentially harmful interactions.  

There are many ways you can find out more. And soon, we’ll have an excellent new booklet you can take with you on your next duck date. Stay tuned for more details.

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Friday 15 December 2023