Around Christmas last year, I was looking to see what stores in Tri-Cities might sell duck for us to cook a nice holiday meal. Curious if they sold it at Safeway (formerly Albertson's), I hit up the search engine to ask its technical wisdom. I stared a moment at the screen, which highlighted reviews at Safeway that mentioned duck - and then started laughing.

The duck referenced wasn't at the butcher or the deli. It was standing in the parking lot, looking offended.

Female domestic mallard duck
Jaime Skelton, Townsquare Media

What? There's ducks at Safeway?

At least at the Safeway in Kennewick on Clearwater and Edison - yes, there are. In fact, I'd known about those ducks for years, which is why I found the review saying that they "stayed for the duck" so funny.

I've watched dozens of shoppers express confusion, joy, concern, and even outright spite toward the ducks that appear in the Safeway parking lot. But only a few seem to actually know where they come from.

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Are they from the Columbia River?

No, the ducks (with rare exception) aren't fully wild, and haven't decided to take a shopping trip after a day on the river. They are domestic type Mallard ducks, and their home is actually just across the street from Safeway at the Lakeside Apartments. In spring and summer, you might even catch sight of them crossing at the crosswalk (though they haven't learned to press the button yet).

Map of duck path in Kennewick
Google / Canva

Lakeside Apartments have man-made ponds and waterways throughout the complex, and these ponds were stocked with domestic ducks many years ago. Since then, the ducks have been breeding regularly, sometimes crossing with visiting wild ducks. The apartments also make sure the ducks are fed, as they are part of the property's appeal.

Can I feed the ducks?

Yes, although you don't need to. Feeding the ducks won't hurt them - again, they are already being fed by humans because they are not truly wild ducks. They're already very used to hand-outs, although we should not encourage them to rely on them. They do not like being touched or handled, though, so please discourage children from chasing after them.

Male domestic mallard duck swimming
Jaime Skelton, Townsquare Media

Remember that feeding bread and crackers to ducks is not encouraged. Instead, if you are going to feed them, give them birdseed or produce (they love leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, and fruit). And of course, please avoid standing in the way of traffic - these birds aren't always the brightest and sometimes get run over.

Read also: Terrified of the bird flu in Washington? What you need to know

Love seeing birds? Here are some of the common birds you'll spot in Tri-Cities.

Gallery Credit: Patti Banner

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