Feeding Bread to Ducks
Now, like many birders, I was first introduced to the joys of wildlife by feeding ducks bread at a local park. I truly believe that the experience of feeding wild animals or birds is a great way for people to become connected to nature. However I am not a fan of feeding bread to ducks – as there are simpler, better, and equally easy, options available.
At some level, I do understand the argument for bread. We’ve fed ducks bread for hundreds of years, and a small amount (every now and again) wouldn’t do ducks too much harm. The crucial point is; too much bread could do much more harm than good, and moderation is hard to both judge and maintain.
All wild animals are “convenience” feeders, to a degree. So to conserve energy for the winter, will often eat the closest food at hand, rather than go searching. However, to survive, wild animals need to eat things that offer the best nutritional value, even if that requires a little more energy to find.
Ultimately, this means that filling up on nutritionally poorer foods could be detrimental. An easy way to look at it is ‘bread for ducks is like bread for humans’. It’s not nutritionally dense, but it fills you up, so you don’t fancy anything healthy!
Bread can be a source of carbohydrates for ducks, but it offers little else of nutritional value. Ducklings require a varied diet and plenty of natural plants and insect proteins to mature properly. If ducks are regularly fed bread, their ducklings will not receive adequate nutrition for proper growth and development.
When too much bread is offered to ducks, not all of it will be eaten. Soggy, uneaten bread can lead to greater algae growth, which often clogs waterways and crowds out more desirable plants. This pollution can eventually eradicate fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and other life in the vicinity, making good food sources even scarcer.