Why Don't Ducks Come to My Lake?

Waterfowl deterrents in shallow-lake habitat

Reason 1: Probably because there is little food available for waterfowl. Ducks feed on aquatic insects, wild rice and sago pondweed in shallow lakes. When there is inadequate food, birds will avoid the lake.

Towner Lake, in Grant County near Herman, Minn., before restoration

Reason 2: Runoff from adjacent agriculture has degraded the lake by increasing the sediment and nutrient loads. Nutrient inputs lead to algal blooms that strip oxygen from the lake and sediments cloud the water and prevent growth of vegetation that ducks eat.

Turbid, nutrient-laden water

Reason 3: The lake is too deep and boats and other recreational activities are disrupting wildlife use. Lakes that are too deep and too cloudy do not provide suitable waterfowl or marsh bird habitat.

Disturbance on a lake impacts vegetation growth and waterbird use.

Reason 4: Development has degraded the shoreline and facilitated growth of invasive vegetation. Lake side residents discourage the fluctuating water levels needed to maintain healthy shallow lakes.

Lot for sale on shore of shallow lake

Reason 5: Too many fish in the lake. Fish eat aquatic insects and vegetation that would otherwise be available to waterfowl and other wetland birds.

Fish removed from Swan Lake, Minn.

Reason 6: Lack of draw down and sustained high water levels have altered the ecology of the lake and created conditions that are unsuitable as waterfowl habitat.

Drawing down the water in a shallow lake helps rejuvenate vegetation growth, Diamond Lake, Iowa