What eats ducks? Ducks are a member of the avian species. It’s a bird referred to as a waterfowl since it thrives near various water bodies. They are omnivorous and feed on different plants, seeds, insects, crustaceans, and fish. But, ducks also provide a tasty meal for a huge number of other birds and animals. So, whether you’re keeping domestic ducks as pets or you simply like going to the park to watch them swim, ducks have their fair share of predators to be concerned about! In this guide, I’ll highlight some of the biggest predators of ducks across the world!
- What eats ducks?
- Birds of prey that eat ducks
- Canidae that eat ducks
- Cats that eat ducks
- Don’t forget humans!
What Eats Ducks?
Ducks have a lifespan of up to ten years and live in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. But, ducks in the wild don’t always reach this age, particularly if they’re living somewhere rife with predators. Ducks are prominent in all continents apart from Antarctica and are a favorite snack for many predators.
Unlike domesticated birds such as chickens, ducks are more vulnerable to predators, especially in the wild. Their round beaks, webbed feet, and pea-sized brains don’t help them fight off predators. Their rounded bodies also make it harder for some duck species to fly away, thus ending up as prey. Ducks attract predators thanks to their succulent meat and nutritious eggs. Let’s find out more about common duck predators.
Birds of Prey that Eat Ducks
Are there birds that eat ducks? Yes! Some species of birds of prey feast on ducks and other smaller birds, while others go for large prey. Below are a few bird species that prey on ducks:
Peregrine falcons are large predatory raptors that zoom in on prey at over 200mph! They have strong, sharp talons that help them grab ducks mid-flight. They use their speed and element of surprise to grab or knock-down ducks to the ground.
2. Bald Eagles
The largest and most powerful birds of prey are eagles. They are most magnificent while in flight, and their long, powerful wings help them soar high and catch and carry prey as ducks.
Their equally powerful talons dig deep inside their prey for better grip while in flight. They use their razor-sharp hooked bill to kill and cut through the duck’s meat within minutes.
Although smaller than the eagle, hawks have huge wingspans and flat tail ends. These daytime hunters prey on ducks alongside other birds and small mammals. Sea hawks’ superior hunting prowess helps them make duck part of their main course.
Also known as ospreys, the Seahawks have sharp eyesight, like eagles, and can spot ducks from great heights. Their powerful talons, wingspan, and diving skills help them plunge into the water at great speeds, where they easily snatch ducks and fly off without fuss.
Unlike other birds of prey, owls are silent night hunters. The Eagle owl preys on larger birds and mammals such as ducks, young foxes, hares, and other game birds. Owls are aggressive, have a high metabolism, and need a lot of food to sustain their energy.
Owls attack their prey by swooping down on a duck from above. They sit silently on trees dead in the night and use their night vision to strategize and go in for the kill.
These birds of prey are opportunistic carnivores that usually go after small birds, ducklings, and fish. However, they eat anything that fits in their terrifying abyss of a mouth, including adult ducks! So long as prey fits in their mouth, trust a Pelican to eat it.
They suffocate the ducks by closing their mouths and swallowing them whole, leaving their corrosive digestive juices to break down prey.
Canidae that Eats Ducks
Canidae is a family of carnivorous animals encompassing domestic dogs, jackals, coyotes, dingoes, and foxes. They are fond of preying on birds, especially waterfowl. Here are the major types that you’ll see eating ducks when given the opportunity:
1. Domestic Dogs
Domestic dogs eat duck meat in moderation. Dogs gain a lot of nutrients from duck meat and fancy eating certain organs such as the liver and chewing on the neck. Duck meat carries a lot of essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, and phosphorous. But, some owners will avoid letting their dogs chase and attack wild ducks, instead sticking to commercial food containing this meat.
These wild canines are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters; they feed on carcasses, insects, and fruit. Jackals also prey on wild game such as ducks; these predators hide in thickets during the daytime and waylay their prey at dusk.
At times they hunt in small packs; however, they mostly hang out in pairs or alone and are swift hunters with powerful jaws that clench on prey and never let go!
Coyotes feed on ducklings and nesting hens and scavenge eggs. However, they chase off other predators, thus allowing the breeding season to thrive.
These are Australia’s largest terrestrial carnivores and are opportunistic hunters. They also scavenge food and will occasionally eat plants and fruits. Dingoes love ducks and use every opportunity to hunt them when they chance upon a flock.
Red foxes are effective predators in the prairie pothole regions. They seek out duck nests to feed on nesting hens and eggs. They cause a lot of havoc in a breeding season and could decimate an entire flock!
Cats that Eat Ducks
Cats are predators. They have an innate ability to hunt; from the small domestic cat to the big lion and wild tiger cats, they all go after birds when hungry. Below are some cat species that fancy eating duck meat.
Tigers are not good climbers, and birds are far down their food chain. However, whenever Tigers come across a flock of ducks and other birds, they hunt, kill, and feast. These solitary cats use their powerful smell and strength to kill prey.
Though Pumas’ favorite prey are camelids and ungulates, they also feed on small mammals and birds, such as ducks.
Their sporadic eating habits contribute to their survival; Pumas stalk their prey on rocky edges or tall grass, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. They use their stealth and powerful fangs to grab the prey’s neck pressing on the windpipe. Pumas use exsanguination and suffocation to kill prey.
Panthers are known to include certain ground birds in their diet. They use the element of surprise on ducks and other waterfowl that nest on the ground or feed in shallow waters.
These ferocious carnivores are the apex killing machines, always predators and rarely prey. They feast mostly on large animals but are opportunistic when hungry and prey on small animals such as hares and waterfowl such as ducks.
5. Domestic Cats
Domestic cats feed on ducks and will prey on ducklings and maturing ducks. Cats are carnivores that need a protein diet to survive, ducks are a rich source of protein, and you can add it to your cats’ diet.
Don’t Forget Humans!
Although humans usually won’t be seen stalking through the park to catch and eat a duck, duck is a popular meat choice across the world in human societies. Ducks are farmed for human consumption, just like chickens and other common animals. Because duck is such a popular meat, some ducks are farmed in poor conditions. But, groups like the RSPCA are working hard to improve farmed duck welfare!
What Eats Ducks? A Conclusion
There are plenty of animals that feed on ducks. Ducks make a good protein source for birds of prey, cats, Canidae, and other meat-eating species. Some species, such as foxes, will decimate an entire flock if given the chance. So, if you’re raising ducks at home, it’s a great idea to take some safety precautions to protect them!
More Guides You Might Like
- Western Ecological Research Center, ‘Research Spotlight: Ducklings Leave Nests Early Mornings, Suggested Predator Avoidance’, U.S. Geological Survey (2019)
- Cottam, C. ‘Food Habits of North America Diving Ducks’, United States Department of Agriculture (1939)
- Clark, D. (et al), ‘Cougar Kill Rates and Prey Selection’, The Journal of Wildlife Management (2014)
- Wilckens, D. (et al), ‘Mountain Lion Feeding Behavior’, Journal of Mammalogy (2015)