Do you feed bread to the birds? Did you know that this is bad for them and if you are throwing bread into water, very bad for rivers and ponds too? In 2015 the Canal & River Trust launched a campaign to encourage people to swap bread for healthy snacks and to exercise some portion control when feeding the ducks. In 12 months they reported a 20% reduction, 80,000 less loaves than the previous year. However there are still 3.5m loaves thrown into watercourses every year.
So what’s the big deal, why is bread so bad? Uneaten soggy bread can cause a build-up of nutrients, which can lead to greater algae growth, spread disease and encourage pests like rats. Other issues that can arise include creating an overcrowding of bird populations, as the birds will all flock to the same location for food. Too many birds in one place stresses them out and creates an excessive amount of bird droppings, which as well as being unsightly and slippery underfoot, can also reduce water quality and clog waterways with harmful algae.
What is the solution? Ditch the bread for healthier alternatives. How about the bag of salad in the bottom of your fridge or those grapes shriveling up in your fruit bowl? You don’t need to go out and buy expensive birdseed. Ducks love oats, rice, vegetable trimmings, frozen peas and sweetcorn. Bread is like junk food for ducks, they end up gorging themselves on it and then don’t having enough room for nutrient dense food leaving them malnourished. It is also important to try not to feed them too often. Ducks need to maintain their natural fear of humans and if they expect food off everyone they meet; they can become aggressive when they aren’t fed.
The general advice is to feed them healthier alternatives, feed them less often and try not to always feed them in the same place.
Laura Preston – Falls of Clyde Ranger, Scottish Wildlife Trust
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