Lately the local Canada Geese and ducks have been parading with their newly hatched offspring. In local nature parks, you can’t keep but notice people feeding them white bread. Bread they shouldn’t be eating themselves, but that’s an other debate. Many parents and grand-parents use this activity as a sort of bonding experience with their children and grand-children. Although a moderate amount of bread won’t kill waterfowls, there’s no control over the amount ingested as family after family feed these wild birds on a daily basis. The effect of feeding water fowls whit bread is often malnutrition that can result in life threatening deformities for their young.

Healthy Canada Goose Chick fed by Mother NatureHealthy Canada Goose Chick fed by Mother Nature

Artificial feeding of white bread and other table scraps is harmful to waterfowl. Depending on the environment and frequency of the feeding, it can promote one or more of the following conditions:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Increased hybridization
  • Water pollution
  • Delayed migration
  • Concentrations at unnatural sites
  • Overcrowding
  • Spread of disease
  • Costly management efforts
  • Unnatural behavior
  • Devaluation of the species

Angel Wings, is a syndrome that primarily affects waterfowls such as geese, ducks and Swans. The last joint of the wing twists outward leaving the feathers themselves pointing outwards instead of lying flat against the birds body. Although it’s seen in both males and females, Angel Wings seems to develop more often in males.

Waterfowl are most likely to contract angel wing growing up in public parks where people feed them unhealthy food. As young birds grow up on a diet of white bread and other inappropriate nutrition sources, they increase their chances of developing health issues. In many cases the malnutrition prevents their bones from forming normally and may in the worst case scenario result in angel wings. Angel Wings or not, the abnormal bone conditions usually results in death!

Feeding proper feed to domesticated ducks and geese...Feeding proper feed to domesticated ducks and geese…

Most aquatic environments offer the proper nutrients for waterfowls to grow up healthy without human intervention. Yes they have survived millions of years without the help of humans.

If you’re intent on feeding waterfowl for one reason or an other, you should at least feed them food that offers them the proper nutrition. Bread has come a long way from the hearty meal our ancestors used to eat. It’s also full of additives birds don’t need. So stay away from white bread, table scraps, popcorn and crackers.

You can buy proper feed for waterfowls including duck pellets in Feed Stores. It’s inexpensive and easy to store and carry. You can also feed them a healthy mix of cut up seedless grapes, shredded kale, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, and grains such as wheat, barley and oats. Remember to cut everything up in small bite size pieces. You should also take care in not overfeeding as the left over food can pollute. It can also go bad and in itself become harmful to the birds.

Many birds including migrating species of waterfowl are protected by federal laws both in North America and the Eurasian-African Territory. There are also State and Provincial laws. More often than not local County and municipal laws may regulate the feeding of animals in parks and other public spaces. Please consult and respect laws and regulations in your area.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.