Experts have warned that feeding ducks and geese the wrong foods can lead to an early death for the undernourished birds.
As the news emerged last week that 76 per cent of Britons did not feed the wild birds in their gardens, experts have now warned that feeding park birds the wrong foods can make them easy prey for their potential predators.
Feeding the parkland wildlife with chips and white bread might seem like a kind and enjoyable thing to do but it can lead to the birds feeling “bulked out” and even lead to disease.
Martin Brown, animal health officer at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), said while well-meaning feeders think they’re doing the right thing, they can actually be harming the birds.
“Bread, and in particular white bread, is a very poor nutritional quality,” he said. “Too much of it can lead to nutritional disease and an increased susceptibility to infectious disease.
“Feeding bread in moderation, where it doesn’t make up the biggest daily intake of food, does not have so many ill effects,” he said.
“In park lakes, birds can become hooked on bread and they start to prefer it to proper food. It bulks them out.”
Swapping white bread for wholemeal and wheat-based bread is advised as most people think of white bread as the traditional food for park birds.
“People think they are doing a lovely thing by feeding the ducks some bread,” he said. “But they forget they could be one of 20 people doing the same thing every day.”
Grahame Madge, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) added that left-over foods from family meals can be a much better source of nutrients for the birds.
“We don’t want to stop people from feeding ducks, geese and swans but they should consider buying properly balanced food which is available from pet shops or from vets.
“They are even partial to pieces of cut-up green vegetables, which are good for them and which people can take from home.”