This page contains affiliate links, which means if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.
For a lot of people feeding the birds at a park or lake is a favorite past time.
However, it is now known that feeding birds, ducks and other waterfowl things like bread and popcorn may not be that great for them.
For one thing bread, especially white bread or basic highly processed wheat bread has no nutritional value to the birds. They fill up on the bread you toss them instead of other foods that are more nutritious for them.
Most breads are heavily processed and contain chemicals and preservatives that are not suitable for wild birds.
Bread contains very little protein, which birds need to develop muscles and feathers and does not contain the fat birds need for energy.
This is the same with buns, bagels, crackers, chips, pretzels, cookies, cereal and donuts as well. These are all junk foods for birds.
Birds and ducks, especially the babies, are more likely to end up malnourished without the plant nutrients they need to grow properly.
A high-calorie, low-nutrient diet can cause waterfowl to develop a condition called Angel Wing. Angel Wing is an incurable wing deformity that usually renders birds flightless. This means they can’t migrate South in the winter. It also means that their prime defense of flight is taken away, leaving these ducks, swans and other waterfowl in danger of predators that they can’t run away from fast enough.
They can also develop deformities in their legs, which also make them unable to flee danger.
Feeding birds bread and other human junk foods can have other consequences for the birds as well.
Old bread can have mold that makes them sick, contributes to the growth of algae in the water source which can kill other animals and can also cause the bird populations to surge in areas not meant for them, such as your neighborhoods and parks.
Ducks and geese naturally find habitats that offer enough food, but hand outs can lure large crowds to areas that wouldn’t normally support them.
This creates far more waste (bird poo) in a big group which increases the chance of spreading disease amongst themselves and other animals in the area, including humans.
The constant supply of human supplied junk food keeps ducklings from learning how to forage for healthy food for themselves, leaving them at a disadvantage in winter when they fly South (if they’re able to) and can not fend for themselves.
Adult birds are more likely to get fat and sick, as well as lazy and unmotivated to fly South when they need to.
They can also develop aggressive temperaments towards one another as well as your pets and kids playing around the pond.
Feeding birds low nutrient-dense breads and such can also lead to poor circulation in the birds, which leads to poor health and problems.
Then there’s the fact that most pieces of bread that you throw to the birds are way too big for them to eat. Large pieces will get lodged in their crops. In birds, their crops are the organ for storing food located right after their throats.
The food will mold and cause infections in the birds, which are often fatal.
Does this mean that you can’t ever enjoy feeding the cute little birds, ducks, geese, and swan at the park anymore?
While you should always consider leaving wild animals to fend for themselves so they don’t become dependent on humans for their food sources, there are foods you can feed to birds, ducks and other waterfowl that are good for them.
Treats that birds love and are good for them are fruit (in very small pieces), cooked beans (without seasoning), sprouts, vegetables (washed well to remove any pesticides that might be on them), lettuces and greens (again, washed well) and even seeds (salt free).
You can even feed them bread occasionally if it is high quality, low processed whole grain and multi grain varieties.
Just remember that their mouths are actually very small and everything needs to be in tiny small pieces so that they don’t get trapped in their crop.
Foods to avoid feeding to wild birds are avocados, onions, citrus, chocolate, popcorn and spoiled seed.
Also avoid feeding them any raw meat. While most birds are carnivores raw meat spoils very quickly and will grow bacteria that can kill them.
You don’t want to feed them honey either. Honey can harbor bacteria and grow mold that can be fatal to the birds.
Salt is another no-no for birds, as well as dairy products. Birds are largely lactose intolerant.
The take away from this article is clear…be thoughtful and careful when feeding wild birds. You just may be doing more harm than good.