Why You Should Not Feed Bread to the Birds

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).
Feeding Garden Visitors

Why You Should Not Feed Bread to the Birds

  • I saw a Canada Goose with this condition many year ago and I did not realise the cause. Now I know.

    See  

    If this should be in a different section could the mods please move.

  • Have moved this to Feeding garden visitors, perhaps not the most accurate, but as near as possible.

  • Thank you Mrs T 

  • Tiger

    I saw a Canada Goose with this condition many year ago and I did not realise the cause. Now I know.

    See  (Please visit the site to view this video)

    If this should be in a different section could the mods please move.

    Thanks Tiger, I'm bringing this forward for others. I hate to say, I'm guilty as charged. I don't use bread all the time, on odd occasions, but in the case of public places I guess if everyone uses bread then the problem occurs:-(

  • Time for me to go now. All quiet on the western front as they say (or used to in the 'old days' lol. Happy watching everyone:-)

  • One of my pet grievances Tiger, so thanks for bringing it up.

    Some advice in here as to which foods are more acceptable. Some places now sell small bags of duck food, ie pellets and grain, to discourage the bread habit.

    Same goes for the bird table at home. Best place for left over/stale bread is in the bin.

  • The Causes and Effects of Angel Wing Angel wing is also known as slipped or crooked wing, it’s a condition that causes the last joint of the wing to twist, thus resulting in the primary or flight feathers sticking out rather than lying smooth against the body as is normal. The primary cause is thought to be a nutritional problem; the problem usually begins when the bird is still growing from an immature bird to fully adult. If it is given excess feed during this time, it can cause the bird to fatten up and grow too rapidly, resulting in one or more of the wing joints becoming deformed, thus resulting in angel wing. One other major factor is the type of food given to the wildfowl, most people who feed the wildfowl in the park, usually give them white bread. The problem with white bread is that it causes a deficiency in vitamin E, which is found in high levels in the bird’s natural diet, so that’s things like leaves, seeds and aquatic plants. I must point out that angel wing does not affect the general health of the bird, and it does not leave it at risk from other health issues, but it does leave them looking very shabby, but more importantly totally unable to fly. Of course it is possible that in a modern suburban park with a large lake, with an island situated in the middle, far enough away from the bank to prevent even the most determined predator from swimming across for a bird afflicted with angel wing to live quite comfortably and they do. Food is never a problem, because even when natural food becomes scarce, there is always the constant stream of human food to rely upon. But the fundamental fact remains, is that the bird cannot fly, so if a predator like a fox or an overexcited dog should appear, then it would have little chance to escape. Below is a list of alternative food, you can take the next time you visit the park: •Wild bird seed and other grains like corn, wheat and barley •Specialist wildfowl feed (can be bought from places like garden centres or pet shops) •Vegetable peelings or trimmings (chopped) •Grapes cut in half •Frozen peas that have been defrosted •Earthworms or mealworms
  • Thanks Tiger for posting this.

    I am constantly telling people not to feed bread to ducks, geese and swans. I think because the birds actively come to them to be fed and lap it up people think they are doing a nice thing, not giving them completely the wrong diet, more or less poisoning their systems. But when I say something, people always look at me like I'm somehow telling them the earth is flat!

    On Sunday, while out walking along the Grand Union Canal I passed a couple of women on a barge feeding a pair of swans and their cygnets . As I came close I looked at one of them who was holding a packet of what looked like crisps. She caught my eye and said, "Prawn cocktail, they love them!", and laughed. I moved on down the tow path, then turned and finally said  "You do know crisps are really bad for them don't you?" . "Yes but they like them," came the reply.

  • choco. It seems that education has some way to go then. 

  • I have heard the same comment when I try to advise people. If they have a small child I reply "I assume your child loves sweets but you wouldn't feed him/her sweets all the time would you?" That at least gets them thinking.

    At Three Kings Pond, which is very near to where I live, there are three adult Canada Geese which all have Angel Wing. There is an island in the middle of the lake, so they have a refuge from predators (although foxes can swim). Whenever I see someone feeding white bread or anything inappropriate to the CG's on the pond, I point out the three with Angel Wing and tell them that is the result of too much inappropriate food when they are developing. It usually does the trick. Most people think these birds are either moulting or have been in an accident. I have seen one or two families dumping their white bread in a nearby bin and then returning a short while later, either with brown bread or with seed from the market. Merton Council have put up signs around the pond, but they are not prominent enough and do not explain 'why' people should not feed the ducks and geese. I have noticed that the Canada Geese at this pond will not touch duck and swan food, whereas those in nearby parks and on the Thames at Kingston, absolutely lve it. Maybe their fondness for white bread and sweet thinigs has dulled their tastebuds (assuming they have them)?

  • Thank you monkeycheese. 

    I think it is over twenty years ago that I first saw a Canada goose with what I now know to be Angel wing

    Someone later told me that the bird had been born with a deformity. I am amazed to find that it took so long for me to discover the real cause.

    I guess people are out feeding bread to the birds right now.

  • Thank you for posting the connection about Angel Wing - I did not know that but in Hyde Park a few weeks ago I saw an Egyptian goose with a bad case of this, and I thought it was injured.

    I phoned the Parks office and was put through to the wildlife officer who told me it was a deformity that several of the geese have in the park, and there is nothing they can do. They did not mention the link to artificial feeding as the probable cause.

    I do think Hyde Park could do more to educate people about this and will contact them again to suggest they do. I will definitely make sure to up my own game now and do more to educate people about the effects.

  • Well choco I find it amazing that it has taken me over 20 years to find out.

    Also I find it strange that few people have responded to this thread as it must be a common issue. 

  • Brechin Castle Centre had a swan on its pond with Angel Wing for a few years. They displayed a notice informing the people in their park. This was when I became aware of the problem. The bird was always grooming the wing.

    It worries me when sparrows or starlings drop bread in my garden and it's always fought over. I've always used it as a vehicle for high energy food, processing it with suitable fat, leftover cheese, apple, peanuts etc.

  • I think there are not many replies because there are not many people visiting the forums :(

    I learned about bread and birds when I was a little girl, in St James's Park, back when it was still full of House Sparrows, which would come to people's hands for food. I was standing on the bridge where the sparrows came down (the rest of my family were sitting on a bench nearby) and a man came up to me, said 'You don't want to feed them on bread,' took said bread out of my hand and dropped it into the lake below. Then he poured some birdseed into my hand and told me to give that to the sparrows instead. Which was all fine, except the bread he'd taken from me was actually the sandwich I was having for lunch...