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Squawk! – A Science Experiment

The 'ducks' converge, Lake Ginninderra, Canberra

It was like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” We –that is my two year old granddaughter, her Dad and I had gone down to Lake Ginninderra in Canberra to do a bit of duck feeding. We called them 'ducks' but really they included all kinds of water birds  both native and domestic– coots, herons – colloquially known as “garbage chickens,”  one large black and white domestic duck, several native ones and a swan.

It was an experiment really. Knowing that it wasn’t a good idea to feed them bread, especially the native birds, we had three kinds of duck food with us – mixed bird seed, dried peas and cooked rice to see which the ‘ducks’ would prefer. 

They came from near and far, even this swan....
...  and an actual duck

Soon they were converging on us from all directions and they weren’t at all fussy about what they ate. There was a veritable feeding frenzy which got so bad that we had take refuge behind a low palisade of rocks to stop them ripping the little baggies out of Miss Two’s hands. Even that barely slowed them down. The big duck and the swan were already making their way up and over the rock embankment.

Still they came

Then someone has arrived  with a loaf of white bread

Just as we feared being attacked, someone a little further around the lake broke out a bag of white bread. There were a few seconds of confusion as ducks streamed in both directions – then they took off en masse. “Ducks” have no loyalty.

After a moment of confusion they were off. There is no loyalty amongst ducks

And the upshot of our experiment? Yes, there was a slight preference for peas, but junk food wins every time!