Water birds incorporate a wide range of fresh water and salt water species which eat different food. This section deals with the more common waterbirds we deal with.

  • Fresh water species include Swans, Ducks, Coots, Grebes, Ibis, Herons.
  • Seabird species include Cormorants, Seagulls, Terns, Petrels, Pelicans, Pacific gulls, Penguins.


Contact the Hotline: (08) 8289 0896



Phone: +61 8 8262 5452
Mobile: +61 0 411 057 551 


What to feed ducks, geese and waterfowl

The most common items fed to ducks and waterfowl are also the least nutritious and most unhealthy (bread, crackers, popcorn and similar bread­-type products and scraps).    Bread has little nutritional value and can harm ducklings’ growth, pollute waterways and attract  rodents and other pests. Similarly, ducks should not be fed any products that are spoiled or mouldy ­  different types of mould  can be fatal to waterfowl.     Fortunately, there are many other types of food that can be offered to ducks, geese and Swans as  part of a healthy and nutritious diet.    As omnivorous birds, ducks will eat a great deal of different foods, and the best foods to offer ducks  include:

● Oats (uncooked, rolled or quick)

● Rice (cooked)  ​ ⇨​ Easy!

● Birdseed (any type or mix) ​ ⇨​ Easy!

● Peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook) ​ ⇨​ Easy!

● Earthworms

● Mealworms (fresh or dried)

● Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes ​ ⇨​ Easy!

● Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped) ​ ⇨​ Easy!

● Duck feed pellets ­ these can be purchased from farming or agricultural supply stores


Other tips for feeding ducks, geese and Swans include:

● Stop feeding if the birds appear uninterested or are leaving the food uneaten, and avoid  feeding the birds if other visitors are already offering treats

● No matter what foods you provide, only offer foods in bite-­sized pieces the birds can easily  consume without choking or struggling

● Be wary of birds that approach closely and remember that they can still be aggressive,  particularly larger waterfowl such as Swans and geese

● Litter can hurt birds in many ways, so be sure to dispose of all trash properly, including bags,  twist ties, bread ties and unsuitable scraps

● Do not allow pets or children to chase or disturb the birds, particularly young birds or families  that could become stressed or injured more easily

By knowing what to feed ducks as part of a nutritious and responsible diet, anyone can enjoy this  activity without inadvertently harming their favorite waterfowl.

The Pacific Black Duck is mostly mid-brown in colour, with each feather edged buff. The head pattern is characteristic, with a dark brown line through the eye, bordered with cream above and below and a dark brown crown. The upper wing colour is the same as the back, with a bright glossy green patch in the secondary flight feathers. The white underwing is conspicuous in flight. Young Pacific Black Ducks are similar to the adults in plumage.

Habitat: The Pacific Black Duck is one of the most versatile of the Australian ducks. It frequents all types of water, from isolated forest pools to tidal mudflats. Pacific Black Ducks are usually seen in pairs or small flocks and readily mix with other ducks. In the wild, birds are often very wary of humans and seldom allow close approach. Birds in urban ponds become quite tame, however.

Masked Lapwings are large, ground-dwelling birds that are closely related to the waders. The Masked Lapwing is mainly white below, with brown wings and back and a black crown. Birds have large yellow wattles covering the face, and are equipped with a thorny spur that projects from the wrist on each wing. The spur is yellow with a black tip. The Masked Lapwing has two subspecies resident in Australia. The southern subspecies has black on the hind neck and sides of breast, and has smaller facial wattles. Northern birds are smaller, without the partial black collar, but have a much larger wattle, which covers most of the side of the face. The sexes are similar in both subspecies, although the male tends to have a larger spur. Young Masked Lapwings are similar to the adult birds, but may have a darker back. The wing spur and facial wattles are either absent or smaller in size. The southern subspecies is also known as the Spur-winged Plover.

Habitat: The Masked Lapwing inhabits marshes, mudflats, beaches and grasslands. It is often seen in urban areas. Where this bird is used to human presence, it may tolerate close proximity; otherwise it is very wary of people, and seldom allows close approach.

The Nankeen Night Heron is a stocky heron with rich cinnamon upperparts, white-buff underparts, a black crown, and yellow legs and feet. The head is large, the neck short (giving a stooped appearance), and the legs relatively short. During breeding the back of the head bears three white nuptial plumes. The bill is dark olive-green, and the eyes are yellow. Young birds are heavily spotted and streaked white, brown and orange-brown. As they mature, the black cap of the adult develops first, with the body plumage remaining streaked for some time. The Nankeen Night Heron is also called the Rufous Night Heron.

Habitat: The Nankeen Night Heron frequents well-vegetated wetlands, and is found along shallow river margins, mangroves, floodplains, swamps, and parks and gardens.

The Bush Stone-curlew, or Bush Thick-knee, is a large, slim, mainly nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird. It is mostly grey-brown above, streaked with black and rufous. It is whitish below with clear, vertical black streaks. The bill is small and black, and the eye is large and yellow, with a prominent white eyebrow. Both sexes are similar. Young Bush Stone-curlews are similar in appearance to the adults, but are paler, and a little browner in colour. Bush Stone-curlews are nocturnal birds (night birds), doing all their feeding and other activities at night.

Injured Wildlife Hotlines

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(08) 8289 0896
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1300 KOALAS (562 527)
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(08) 8486 1139


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