Do you want to learn how I attracted mallards to my backyard? Let me show you. I’ve been feeding birds in my Topeka Kansas yard for 20 years. And last year was the first time I had a mallard come to my yard in the winter. And I only had one.
You see, Mallard ducks are not your typical winter backyard feeder bird. They spend a lot of time on bodies of water. There is a lake about a quarter mile from my house where they do congregate. You can also call the ducks by various cute duck names.
In winter, they often go to corn fields to feed. Suburban yards surrounded by houses and tall trees with no body of water are not their typical habitat. But in the winter of 2019 we had a fair amount of snow and I believe the wild mallards were having difficulty finding food.
One day I saw a handful of mallards eating the cracked corn that I scattered on the ground for the native sparrows. I told a friend about the ducks and he suggested putting out whole corn for the mallards.
He said with all the fields covered in snow, the mallards would be looking for a source of corn. He had whole corn and brought me a couple of bushels of it. I was so excited to see if his suggestion would work. To prepare a place to feed, I cleared snow from a flat area of my yard and put out gallons of corn. The mallards circled the yard but only a few would land. And those that did land would not eat the corn that was near the house.
To entice more of them to land, I cleared an area in the side yard further from the house. I scattered about 3 gallons of corn on the ground. That trick worked. The mallards started coming in droves. They seemed to prefer feeding at dusk. Some would land in the neighbor’s yard and walk over to my yard, but some landed right near the corn dodging tree branches as they arrived. Once they began feeding, they just kept coming and coming. At their peak I counted over 100 mallard seating corn in my yard I call them by various duck names.
With 100 mallards feeding you go through a lot of corn. I was feeding about a third of a bushel every night! I finally solved the problem of getting the mallards to come to feed. But when I would try to get video, they would see me move inside the house and bolt. I had to make an indoor camera blind covering the window with cardboard and draping cloth over the camera. When it was feeding time, I would turn off all lights in the house and crawl across the floor to turn on the camera.
Finally I was able to get video of the mallards. This is some of the first footage I was able to get using my blind. The mallards are very aggressive when they are feeding. They actually go into a feeding frenzy and do not like sharing the corn with each other! Because the location I was feeding wasn’t very visible from the house I set up my Bushnell trail camera to capture more pictures of the ducks. Some of these photos
are in black and white as the ducks were feeding when there wasn’t enough light for colour pictures.
If you are interested in the trail camera I put a link to it in the video description. I also moved my video camera upstairs where there was a better view of the feeding area. I like this footage as you can see the entire flock. Watch as the numbers keep increasing as more and more mallards come into feed. I still can’t believe there were so many in my backyard. But I think my favourite footage was taken when I set up the camera outside as the video also captured sound.
Watch as the mallards walk over from the neighbor’s yard to begin their feeding frenzy. Listen to them as they gorge themselves on corn. In the process of attracting ducks, I learned that whole corn attracts other wildlife.
When I checked the trail camera for pictures in the morning, I was surprised to see white-tailed deer - not one but two! The corn also attracted cotton tail rabbits. By day the fox squirrels came by for a meal. Other wild birds came to pick through the corn as well.
This was the first time I’d ever fed whole corn in my backyard but will be adding it to the feeding menu. I don’t know that just anyone can attract wild mallards to their backyard. You probably need a body of water nearby so that ducks are in the vicinity.
It probably helps if the countryside is covered in snow. But it’s worth a try to put out whole corn in an open area where it’s easy for the ducks to land and eat. I’d be interested to know if anyone else has luck with mallard ducks or other large birds coming to eat in the winter.