The truth comes out: Bread is bad for ducks!
When you were a child, did you take stale bread down to the pond at the local park to feed the ducks? Feeding ducks bread is a tradition for many, but pet duck owners and fans are speaking out against this practice. Why? Because believe it or not, bread is bad for ducks. And while you may feel like you're helping the ducks by feeding them bread, you may actually be harming them instead.
It's hard to believe that bread is bad for ducks. After all, they love it, don't they? The truth is, just like children, ducks would be happy to eat a diet consisting entirely of junk food with little nutritional value. And for ducks, that's just what this carb is.
Why Bread Is Bad for Ducks
Before you head down to the pond with your leftover bread, take a minute to learn why this may doing more harm than good. This doesn't mean that you can't feed your feathered friends. Instead, choose some foods that are healthier to feed wild ducks and other waterfowl so that you'll be helping them, rather than harming them.
"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," a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds told The Guardian during an interview.
Since bread is junk food for ducks, it fills them up, meaning that they're less likely to eat foods with nutritional value. Ducks that are fed bread may suffer from malnutrition, and adult ducks eating bread may become fat and overweight.
But there's another problem with feeding bread to ducks. Because of the high-calorie, low-nutrient diet that bread presents, young birds can develop a condition called "angel wing." Angel wing is a bird's wing deformity which usually means that the ducks cannot fly. It's incurable and can change a duck's life forever. Like with any animal, feeding ducks a high quality diet can make a huge difference in their quality of life.
Bread Means Trouble for the Environment, Too
If waterfowl are fed so much bread that some of it goes uneaten, the uneaten bread poses another problem. The bread can grow mold which can make ducks sick. It can also contribute to algae growth in the water, which can kill animals and spread disease. Algal blooms can also do damage to the water quality and native aquatic plants of the river or lake.
Extra bread doesn't seem like a big deal, but if everyone takes their kids to see the ducks, all that bread can build up, especially if there aren't too many ducks to begin with. If you want to feed the ducks but see bread floating in the water, it's a good sign that the ducks have had their fill already. Try back another time, but bring something a little better than bread!
Healthy Food for Ducks
But don't worry, this doesn't mean that you can't feed ducks at all. In fact, there are plenty of healthy foods that ducks and other waterfowl love that will provide them with the right nutrients and incorporate healthily into their natural diet. Ducks like birdseed, lettuce, sweet corn, frozen peas, seeds, oats, and rice. They'll also snack on quite a few greens as well. If you feed the ducks great food, even their eggs will be more nutritious! Granted, you're not getting eggs from park ducks, but you can feel morally superior the next time you snack on a duck egg.
In addition to bread, you should also avoid feeding ducks foods like avocados, onions, citrus, nuts, chocolate, and popcorn, as these are toxic.
And as for your old bread? It's best to find another use for it, like bread pudding. Please don't give it to the ducks!
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This post was originally published on March 21, 2020.