Monday, July 13, 2009

Duck Tummy Trouble

Most of us animal-loving types have happy childhood memories of feeding ducks little crumbles of bread or crackers... but it's actually reallyREALLY not a helpful thing to do. There are multiple Naturalisty reasons why it's not a helpful thing to do, but the most important is... it can make ducks very sick. Digesting superstarchy foods can cause their internal organs to become engorged, which can lead to things like heart disease and liver damage. Another problem is that breadsy foods also have very little nutrients, but they DO create a feeling of fullness... sooo poor little duckies chow down, fill their tummies, but wind up not having enough healthy "body fuel." And you know how a mouthful of bread or crackers can sometimes get really glue-like, and it sticks to the roof of your mouth and sides of your teeth or gums and it's just really annoying until you brush your teeth?... Ducks have a special organ called a crop, and these starchy foods can get glopped up and impacted inside their crop (this is a very painful, and life-threatening condition.)

Instead of feeding ducks, lure your kids into curiosity mode:
* "What do the wild ducks in your area use as a natural food source?" (Find out together by researching online, referring to books, or by visiting your local wildlife rehab center.)
* "What are your favorite foods to eat?"
* "What do you think might happen to your body if your tummy only had room for bread?"
* "What can we do to help wild ducks grow up healthy & strong?"

While visiting your ducky buddies, try shifting your focus to:
* Using real binoculars (yes, with help, preschoolers can use these tools!)
* Using homemade pretend (cardboard tube) binoculars (like these)
* Watching how ducks move (and mimicking them)
* Listening to how ducks sound (& learning the word "duck" in ASL.)
* Looking for "Duck Evidence" (feathers, tracks etc.) w/a magnifying glass
* Taking photos of the ducks
* Drawing or painting pictures of the ducks

If you feel you must feed ducks, consider less-dangerous munchies like:
* Water Fowl Pellets/Crumbles (Mazuri Feeds, Nutrena Waterfowl, etc.)
* Thawed Frozen Corn or Peas
* Kale or Romaine Bits

Or, instead of feeding real ducks, maybe feed your stash of bathtub rubber duckies (I hear they find invisible lemon skittles quite tasty...)

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