The feeding of birds seems to be an increasingly controversial topic these days. In many towns and cities bylaws have been passed to restrict or ban the feeding of birds because of the mess, and sometimes the noise, that a large number of birds can create. Despite the bylaws many people, especially elders and children, can be found feeding pigeons, ducks, and other feathered friends in public places. GallonDaily is inclined to think that providing food to birds provides some primal benefit, just as does the housing of cats, dogs, and other pets, and that it should not be prohibited. Indeed there may be reasons to encourage the feeding of birds, both for conservation and for human benefit.
Now a UK charity, Canal and River Trust, has published a series of web pages under the heading Help us keep our ducks healthy. Among the findings of the Trust:
- going to your local park to throw stale bread at ducks is completely wrong.
- every year over 6 million loaves of bread are thrown into Britain’s canals and rivers by well-intentioned people feeding the ducks.
- throwing bread into a river can create overcrowding of bird populations, as the birds will flock to the same location in search of their starchy treat.
- too many ducks or waterfowl in one place can stress the birds and lead to their habitats being damaged. It also creates excessive amounts of bird poo, which along with being smelly and slippery underfoot, can impair water quality and create harmful algae which can clog the waterway.
- bread is essentially “junk food” for ducks, and the remnants left behind encourage rats, disease and algae.
- ducklings that are fed on bread end up being malnourished, while birds that get used to hand-outs can lose their natural fear of humans and may become “aggressive”.
- people are urged to feed ducks with frozen peas and sweetcorn instead. Ducks are also reportedly partial to grapes, which should be cut into quarters to make them easier to eat.
- oats, barley, rice and vegetable trimmings are also acceptable replacements for stale bread.
The full series of articles, including some recipes for alternative uses for stale bread, can be found at https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/news-and-views/features/help-us-keep-our-ducks-healthy