Until recently, I didn’t know how bad it is to feed ducks, geese, swans, and other waterfowl bread. Beyond the harm it causes the birds, it also pollutes the environment. These 10 alternatives are much healthier for your feathered friends and the planet.
I have always loved ducks, from the one I tried to pet when I was a preschooler (it bit me) to the flock I strolled by every day on campus. As a kid, my sister and I thought we were being good citizens of the planet by taking our old bread to the ducks at a nearby pond. In graduate school at the University of New Mexico, I often ate my lunch by the duck pond on campus, sharing a few chunks of bread from my sandwich or a few potato chip crumbs with the braver, web-footed creatures who approached me.
It turns out, it’s incredibly dangerous to feed ducks, geese, swans, and other waterfowl bread. And, the bread not consumed by ducks pollutes waterways, threatening the other creatures in the ecosystem like fish, turtles, and other wildlife.
Bread is Bad
As with humans, bread and related products like crackers, chips, donuts, and popcorn, offer little nutritional value to birds. Feeding these items to waterfowl can lead to malnutrition, disease, and weight gain. It also increases the bird’s dependency on humans and reduces its ability to take care of itself in its natural environment.
Bad, bad, bad!
Bread has also been linked to a condition called angel wing syndrome that causes a deformity in the bird’s wings, reducing its ability to fly and increasing its vulnerability to attack or other injuries.
Instead of Bread
Here are 10 healthier, more environmentally-friendly alternatives:
- Grapes, cut in half
- Strawberry greens, after you’ve used the bulk of the berry for yourself
- Oats, wheat, barley, or similar grains
- Cracked corn
- Peas, either defrosted frozen or fresh
- Corn kernels, defrosted frozen or freshly cut from a cob
- Duck feed pellets
- Rice, either cooked or uncooked
- Vegetable scraps, like carrot or cucumber peelings, lettuce trimmings, or radish tops