Why You Really Shouldn’t Feed Ducks Bread At The Park

Okay, we’ve all been there with the plastic bag and the crusts saved for a weekend walk to the park to feed the ducks. Whether you’re trying to entertain a grumpy toddler or just want to say hello to the local feathered population, we list why feeding ducks bread is so last year (or last five years) and what you can give to those hungry mallards at the pond instead.

What’s wrong with bread?

As no doubt the comments section of this article will tell us, people have been feeding ducks bread in the park forever. But just because something is traditional doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. There are several reasons why bread is not ideal, let’s get into it. 

First, bread has very little nutritional value to a duck, as the Canal and River Trust write, it can lead them to be full, meaning they don’t forage for other foods with more nutritional content. This is especially prevalent in young ducklings where an overreliance on human food could even prevent the young animals from learning to forage for themselves. 

“Although ducks and swans can digest all types of bread, too much can leave them feeling full without giving them all of the important vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need,” said a spokesperson for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in a statement to BBC News.

A large part of the problem with bread is that it floats on the surface of the water and, uneaten, these soggy pieces then become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi contributing to the rise of algae within the pond or lake that can spread and be dangerous to other species.

Furthermore, uneaten bread can also attract other animals such as rats which can spread disease. 

If birds are regularly fed in the same area, this can also lead to a high concentration of animal feces in one area, again spreading bacteria and as well as being generally unpleasant.

What should we feed ducks instead?

Ducks are omnivores, foraging on everything from pond weeds to berries and small insects. “We encourage people to use things like sweetcorn, porridge oats and defrosted frozen peas as well as bird seed,” added the RSPB. 

By all means, go to the park and feed our feathered friends – research has suggested that bird watching is beneficial for mental health – but pack a nutritious treat for them instead of the ends of your loaf

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