We understand that the tradition of “going to the park to feed the ducks” is a hard one to break. Besides, what harm does it really cause?
Well, unfortunately it can cause a lot to the bird you are feeding.
While we have been long-term advocates of the “no feeding the birds” message, this recent article prompted us to again raise the issue.
So. what harm does it cause?
Many people enjoy feeding birds and even believe that they are helping our feathery friends. Alas, feeding birds does more harm than good:
- It can make them sick. Human food, particularly bread, can be very unhealthy for birds. This is because these foods are often low in nutrition. Think of it as though you’re feeding the bird ‘fast food’. If these foods are eaten too often birds will become sluggish and malnourished. Also in extreme cases it can lead to ‘Angel Wing’ – see the article above for more information on this.
- It makes them lazy. Human food is a quick and easy option for birds. Over time they become dependent on artificial food sources and lose their ability to forage for natural food.
- It increases their risk of predation. Left over food can attract pests and vermin, like foxes, that may also prey on birds and native animals.
- It encourages non-native animals into the area. Other animals compete for natural resources with our native birds and animals and may aggressively chase native species out of the area.
So, are there any alternatives?
Opinion is mixed. While our basic position remains ‘if you love them, don’t feed them’, we understand that this is an activity that is ingrained in the lives of many. So, if you must feed the birds, do the right thing by them.
Use alternatives to bread. This includes bird seed, grains, grapes cut in half, a thawed bag of frozen peas or corn, or kale, romaine or other leafy greens.
Thank you for making this small change to make a big change in the lives and health of our bird population.