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Feeding the birds can be fun – the problem is that pond feeding ducks and geese is far more harmful than most of us think. Feeding food from your pantry to your local aquatic animals changes not only their diet, but the environment too. So we should just let the ducks get through on their own.
Why you shouldn’t mess with duck diets
Birds such as ducks and geese feed on a specific diet and naturally migrate to areas that meet their needs. The Virginia Wildlife Center explains how wild ducks and geese “eat grains and grasses, aquatic plants and invertebrates, all of which are naturally found in the wild”. There is no harm in feeding birds small amounts of ready-made food, but when everyone comes to the dock to feed the ducks it becomes an integral part of their diet and pretty harmful to health.
Malnutrition leads to metabolic bone disease (MBD) and “Birds with MBD have incredibly soft bones and joints that are often misshapen and broken,” explains the Wildlife Center of Virginia. To keep the birds healthy and safe, let them find food as usual.
How duck feeding harms the environment
Aside from the health problems that processed human food presents to wild birds, it can also disrupt the ecosystem as birds flock to places in greater numbers than usual where they know they are getting the stuff you are giving away. This results in overcrowding, which also affects the terrain and migration patterns. Birds that know they are getting food will stay longer than they should and will jeopardize their own survival.
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The New York Department of Environmental Conservation reports, “30 swans died of starvation in an artificial feeding place in the hard winter of 93/94. In the meantime, over 800 swans survived in the vicinity on natural food. ”The birds not only stay and cannot survive the winter, but also this behavior and the genetic defects passed on to their descendants.
What to do instead of feeding the birds
Some suggest Feeding duck and goose food that is more similar to their natural diet – for example, lettuce greens, vegetable peels and nuts. They recommend cutting them into smaller bites that the animals can easily eat and digest. But in the end, it’s best to spot ducks, geese, and other wildlife as they normally do in nature. Take up bird watching and let them forage for their own food so they can live healthy and natural lives.