Can Ducks Eat Popcorn?

Andy Waters
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Going to the park or pond and feeding food to the ducks always feels like one of those imperative memories to make. From breadcrumbs to random scraps of food, it seems like ducks will eat just about anything. Problem is, that’s not entirely true.

Unfortunately, it’s far too common for people to forget what ducks can and cannot eat before they take their kids to the park to feed the little birds. This means that while it might be enjoyable for the humans, the consequences for the ducks are left unrecognized.

It is common knowledge that ducks, along with most other birds, love to eat corn. Corn is a great form of starch, which is broken down into energy for the ducks. So, if they can eat corn, can ducks eat popcorn?

Here is everything you need to know about whether ducks can eat popcorn or not!

Can Ducks Eat Popcorn?

The answer to this question is a resounding no. Ducks cannot and should not eat popcorn.

Popcorn provides absolutely no nutritional value to a duck, which means that there is no point in them eating it. If anything, popcorn is kind of like junk food to ducks, but not in the way that you might think. Humans can digest junk food like popcorn and fast food because our digestive systems are far stronger than a duck’s, whereas a duck doesn’t have the ability to digest such fatty or sugary foods.

Plus, popcorn is a huge choking hazard for ducks. Despite their large and wide beaks, ducks possess a small esophagus, which means food is more likely to get stuck, causing choking and even death.

This means that while it might look like a duck is enjoying bits of popcorn that you throw at them in the park, it’s not actually a good idea for them to eat it. This also applies to throwing bits of popcorn to your pet ducks – not a good idea.

Why Ducks Can’t Eat Popcorn

No Nutritional Value

The lack of nutritional value from popcorn is arguably the main reason why ducks can’t eat it. Ducks require nutrition to survive, and if they’re living in the wild (such as a park, pond, or river), they’re not exposed to processed foods compared to ducks kept as pets. So, as their diets rely heavily on nutritional value, popcorn provides no benefits.

This is especially true for young ducks and ducklings who need proper nutrition to grow and develop properly.

Choking and Stomach Pain

Popcorn, whether in its popped or kernel form, is a choking hazard for anyone with a small throat like a duck. Choking can cause irreparable damage to a duck, because it’s not easy to do the Heimlich maneuver on one. In a lot of cases, choking on food can actually lead to the death of a duck.

Even if they don’t choke on popcorn, stomach pain is almost a guarantee when a duck eats popcorn. After all, this is human food that their bodies aren’t designed to digest. Like when humans eat something they are intolerant to, ducks will experience severe stomach pains after eating popcorn, which can lead to lack of appetite, sickness, diarrhea, and other health issues.

Fills Them Up

Ducks have small stomachs, which means that when their stomachs are filled with carbohydrates that disagree with their digestive system, they will lose their appetite. Popcorn is a huge carbohydrate for ducks, leading to filling the duck up and not allowing any room for necessary nutrients (such as from the algae of the waterbed).

When a duck is too full to consume the nutrients it needs, its health will deteriorate until that carbohydrate is out of its body – which is easier said than done considering they cannot digest popcorn easily.

Sugar and Salt

While plain popcorn is often considered a healthy junk food snack for humans, the flavored kind certainly isn’t. More often than not, popcorn is flavored with an abundance of seasoning such as salt, butter, oils, sugar, toffee, and more. If even the plainest of popcorn can be harmful to ducks, then it’s understandable why flavored popcorn is also a big no-no.

Oils and fats are especially bad for ducks because the consumption of these can lead to molting, which is where the duck’s feathers thin and fall out at a fast rate. Ducks rely on their waterproof feathers for warmth, sun protection, and to help them glide through the water, which is why they cannot consume oils and fats.

As with humans, too much sodium in a duck’s diet can lead to serious health problems. Humans have a higher tolerance to sodium, but ducks strictly should not have processed sodium in their diet due to the risk of weight gain, stomach issues, and heart issues.

Can Ducks Eat Popcorn Kernels?

In the same way that ducks cannot eat popped popcorn, they cannot eat popcorn kernels. If anything, popcorn kernels are worse for the duck than popped popcorn.

This is because kernels stay in the duck’s digestive system for a long time, because ducks struggle to digest the hardened kernels. During this time, the kernels can actually rot inside them, leading to a myriad of health difficulties. The kernels will putrefy and lead to serious infections, which most often lead to the death of the duck.

Can I Throw Popcorn at a Duck?

Not only is popcorn unsafe for ducks to eat, but it shouldn’t be thrown to them in the first place. There’s no guarantee that a duck will eat the popcorn, which means the popcorn will linger around the park or water and can negatively impact the immediate environment.

The popcorn will start to decay, encouraging insects and other animals nearby. If it’s still not touched, the popcorn will begin to produce mold and harmful bacteria in the pond, leading to nasty infections and even death of both the ducks and the other animals in the water.

So, to put it simply, for the sake of the ducks and the environment, don’t throw popcorn at a duck!