Belfast Telegraph

Feeding ducks bread is bad for their health and habitat, say conservationists

By Ricky Thompson

Feeding bread to birds in the park may seem like a relatively innocent pastime - but you could be doing a lot of harm, experts warn.

Taking a stroll around the local lake to feed the wild fowl is not uncommon and it can be a great way for children to get outdoors and interact with animals, but unfortunately most people take along a loaf of bread instead of a bag of peas.

Northern Ireland's RSPB want the public to stop throwing bread into our lakes and ponds - switching, instead to fruits and vegetables, which don't have a negative impact on the birds' health and surrounding environments.

Birds such as ducks, geese and swans have long been known to swell or develop serious health conditions after eating relatively moderate quantities of bread.

Amy Colvin from the RSPB said: "It's great to see people out, feeding the birds and it's great to get kids connected to nature but we would say don't go down with your pan loaf.

"Any kind of bread that we would consume isn't nutritionally very good for birds. It can cause them to bloat up. It also gets a bit mouldy and horrible if it's at the bottom of the lake and it can actually cause illness among the birds.

"They like a diet of vegetables so any cut up greens from home - peas or grapes - those sorts of things are much better for them. You can also buy duck food or swan food in your local pet shop."

Amy added that bread can also attract vermin to an area, while causing damage to the ecosystem: "If there's bread lying around that's stale or mouldy, it can cause an algal bloom which isn't good for the birds and it can even lead, in extreme cases, to botulism which can be fatal to them. 

"Do feed the ducks and swans in moderation and do go to your park and enjoy nature because that's what it's there for."

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