Summer is upon us and, with the warmer weather, more and more people are enjoying the outdoors, perhaps visiting their local parks and other natural areas. One outdoor activity that brings a lot of joy to many, especially young children, is feeding the ducks. And there’s nothing wrong with that, providing you’re feeding them the right food, which you may be surprised to hear is not bread.
Why you shouldn’t feed ducks bread?
Bread has no nutritional value to ducks, yet it makes them feel full and takes the place of their natural balanced diet. If we constantly feed ducks bread, they’ll end up lacking essential nutrients and with a range of problems, one of which is angel wing. The high calorie, nutrient-deficient diet causes wing deformities and hinders flying. And, in some cases can stop ducks flying completely. It also shortens their lifespan.
It’s not just ducks that bread impacts either. If left uneaten, it remains in the water and causes algal blooms, bacterial growth, and poor water quality. All of which can affect other wildlife as well.
When bread sinks, excess nutrients can increase the presence of soil bacteria, including a bacterium known as Clostridium botulinum, the causal agent of avian botulism. If ducks ingest the mud while feeding, they risk catching the disease C. botulinum, which produces a neurotoxin and causes paralysis. Affected ducks can no longer eat or swim properly and will die as a result.
What should I feed ducks?
Feeding ducks is fun and there is no reason we shouldn’t continue to do so, providing we do so responsibly. Some safe alternatives to bread include:
- cracked corn
- chopped grapes
- defrosted peas
- vegetable peels
- chopped lettuce/greens
Blog by OneKind Planet writer Stephanie Rose.