Why feeding water birds bread is harmful:
- Duckling Malnutrition: In an area where ducks are regularly fed bread, ducklings will not receive adequate nutrition for proper growth and development. Furthermore, because ducks will naturally seek out an easy food source such as human handouts, ducklings will not learn to forage for natural foods as easily.
- Overcrowding: Where an easy food source is abundant, ducks and other waterfowl will lay more eggs and the pond or lake will become overcrowded. This makes it more difficult for the birds to seek out healthier food sources and increases the likelihood of territorial aggression.
- Pollution: When too much bread is offered to ducks, not all of it will be eaten. The soggy, uneaten bread is unsightly and rotting bread can create noxious odors as well as lead to greater algae growth that can clog natural waterways. This concentrates the pollution and can eventually eradicate fish and other life in the vicinity.
- Diseases: Feeding ducks bread can increase the spread of diseases in two ways. First, a carbohydrate-rich diet leads to greater defecation, and bird feces easily harbor bacteria responsible for numerous diseases, including avian botulism. Second, moldy bread can cause aspergillosis, a fatal lung infection that can decimate entire duck and waterfowl flocks.
- Pest Attraction: Rotting supplies of food leftover from sated ducks will attract other unwelcome pests such as rats, mice and insects. These pests can also harbor additional diseases that can be dangerous to humans.
- Loss of Natural Behaviour: When birds become accustomed to handouts, they lose their natural fear of humans and may become aggressive in order to get more food. Their loss of fear can also cause other dangers, such as a willingness to cross busy roads in order to reach picnickers and other likely sources of food.
Good Foods to Feed Ducks:
The best foods for ducks are those that provide the nutrients, minerals and vitamins the birds need for healthy growth and development. Many of these foods are similar to the natural seeds, grains and plants the birds will forage on their own. As omnivorous birds, ducks will eat a great deal of different foods, and the best foods to offer ducks include:
- Cracked corn
- Wheat, barley or similar grains
- Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick)
- Rice (cooked or uncooked)
- Birdseed (any type or mix)
- Grapes (cut in half)
- Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
- Mealworms (fresh or dried)
- Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
- Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped)
- Duck feed pellets or poultry starter pellets (x)