Sometimes I think the idea of taking some bread to the local park and feeding the ducks is one of those that we simply absorb as we are growing up. It is one of those things that is “just the way things are done”.
Unfortunately for the ducks, a diet consisting of a significant amount of bread is similar to a human eating mostly potato chips. It tastes good and anyone who as seen ducks darting for bits of bread knows that they enjoy it. However, bread is severely lacking in the nutrients that ducks need. This malnutrition can lead to a condition known as Angle Wing. The ends of the wings of birds with this condition flare outward instead of laying flat against the body. This further compromise the birds’ ability to fly as well as snagging on brush and other hazards.
[insert pics of angle wing]
Waterfowl food is, as you would expect, the best option. And if you are someone who likes to feed the ducks on a regular basis the expense of buying a bag of waterfowl feed is not too great.
For those who like to feed ducks more infrequently, leafy greens from the produce aisle are a great option. And for the author of this article seeing ducks savage a leaf of lettuce is more entertaining than their attacks on bread or other household options. Peas, thawed from frozen, are also an excellent option.
[insert pics of feeding birds proper foods]
If neither of the above are options, dry cat food can even be used though it should not be considered an option for long-term feeding.
While these options can help improve the chances of survival for domestic breeds there are several issues that must be considered.
For example, food must never be thrown into the water. Un-eaten food can rot and result in the pond or lake becoming contaminated with Botulism. Botulism poisoning causes paralysis and can lead to death.
Another consideration is the effect that available food has on wild and migratory birds. As with all animals, they will remain in a location where they have plenty to eat. This can cause overpopulation and even lead to migratory birds remaining in the location instead of following their usual migration patterns. Overpopulation can lead to greater risk of disease and, as the population grows, malnutrition.