The Impact of Pollution on Ducks

Imagine: you are a toddler, shopping with your mother. On your way from the car to the store, you walk across a bridge that vaults over a river. Three ducks suddenly rise from the banks of the river and soar up, over the bridge and past you. In awe, you tug on your mother’s hand and point at them with excitement. When you are in the store and see a shelf full of rubber ducks, you both immediately decide that the ducks on the bridge were a sign to buy one. On the way back to the car, your happiness with your new toy overwhelms you and you take the duck out of its plastic bag to hug it, but the wind tears the bag down the street. Your mother doesn’t have time to chase it, and you go home. Looking at these events, it can be easy to see that seemingly mundane parts of life can have a huge impact. The bag that blew away polluted the environment and could end up hurting the very ducks you admired. The effects of pollution have weighed heavily on the waterfowl population, causing death, injury, and poisoning.

    Pollution has been steadily increasing in places where wildlife dwell, and thus has been becoming part of the wildlife itself. When most people think of pollution in the environment, they think of the pollution that is dumped into the oceans. Freshwater birds, such as ducks and geese, have as many issues with pollution as birds that live by the ocean. A study in Canada found that “…one in 10 Canadian freshwater birds are polluted with plastic…” (Bienkowski, Brian). While one bird being polluted would be bad enough, this research shows that serious change must be made. The plastic can cause infections in the birds and can hurt their organs. Chemicals in the plastic that is stuck in the birds can leak and be absorbed as well. One specific story from May in 2019 tells of a mallard duck that had “…a plastic bottle ring lodged in his mouth… the weakened duck died from his injuries — he was unable to feed,” (“Killed & Injured by Plastic Pollution: Individual Animal Stories • Surfers Against Sewage”). In more urban settings, the pollution is so bad that ducks cannot eat without acquiring deadly plastics. Attempting to eat a plastic bottle ring led to the demise of the duck. This common occurrence is impacting so many duck populations because plastic can look like potential food or be in the food that the ducks are eating. Aside from eating plastic, they can also become entangled and immobilized by discarded plastic packaging. The best way to start to reverse the effects of pollution is to volunteer to help clean up waste and to follow the phrase of reducing, reusing, and recycling (“How Many Birds Die from Plastic Pollution?”). It does not take much extra effort to make a difference, and any change is good change. One bird being saved from pollution is better than none. 

    Ducks, and other waterfowl, have been gravely affected by the effects of absentminded pollution. They have been forced to deal with copious amounts of plastic taking up their homes and taking over their sources of food. This pollution is easily preventable, if only people would take a few extra steps to prevent it. Clean up groups also do much to decrease the impact of pollution and the spread of plastics. So that we may view ducks flying above a river instead of only a yellow duck flying above the water of a tub, we must be preventative and work to be environmentally conscious. 


Works Cited

Bienkowski, Brian. “Plastic Hurting Canada’s Loons, Ducks and Geese.” EHN, EHN,

16 Oct. 2017,

2497223222.html. Accessed on 21 January 2021.

“How Many Birds Die from Plastic Pollution?” WWF,

ow-many-birds-die-from-plastic-pollution#gs.qwdw3e. Accessed on 21

January 2021.

“Killed & Injured by Plastic Pollution: Individual Animal Stories • Surfers

Against Sewage.” Surfers Against Sewage, 31 May 2019,

/news/killed-injured-by-plastic-pollution-individual-animal-stories/. Accessed 

on 22 January 2021.

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