The seemingly innocent act of feeding ducks and other wild birds with bread is harming waterfowl and polluting waterways, Experts warned as they urged people to use more benign alternatives.
Uneaten bread causes algal blooms, allows bacteria to breed and attracts rats and other vermin.
Apart from affecting water quality, experts say the duck feeders may be unwittingly damaging the health of the birds.
Large amounts of bread and other human foodstuffs can be harmful to wildfowl, leading to potentially fatal or disabling health conditions. Uneaten food can also cause changes to the chemical and bacteriological content of water, increasing the risk of avian disease.
Making large quantities of bread easily available stops ducks from eating a natural, balanced diet.
White bread in particular has no real nutritional value, so while birds may find it tasty, the danger is that they will fill up on it instead of other foods that could be more beneficial to them. There’s also a risk that ducks and other water fowl could get an illness known as angel wing, which is caused by not getting the right nutrients in their diet. The illness causes a deformity in birds’ wings that can hamper the way they fly or even stop them altogether, which could obviously be fatal.
The aim is not to discourage people from interacting with wildlife, but to do it in a way that recognized their particular needs.
Feed the ducks and other wild birds sensibly so your children and future generations can enjoy it too. Bread’s not great for a duck’s health as it’s nothing like their natural diet so don’t overfeed them with large quantities of it.
Try to vary what you give them and swap it for healthier more natural treats like oats, corn, or defrosted frozen peas. And exercise portion control,Feeding regularly in particular places makes ducks habitually reliant on food from humans and leads to an accumulation of duck feces in the water, on paths and bridges.
Don’t follow the crowds, spread the love, and visit a new family of ducks to prevent large quantities of the starchy duck ‘junk food’ from clogging up the same places and potentially damaging the environment.
Safe feed for ducks and wild birds:
Wheat, barley or similar grains
Rice (cooked or uncooked)
Birdseed (any type or mix)
Grapes (cut in half)
Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
Chopped vegetable trimmings or peels
Not safe for ducks and wild birds:
Crackers and biscuits
Sugary food – sweets, chocolate