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As the warm weather arrives, many families head to the local park on the weekends to spend time outdoors. One popular past-time is feeding ducks and geese — and it’s not uncommon for people to grab leftover bread or rolls on their way out the door.
What many people don’t realize is that bread, rolls, chips, and other human “snack food” items do not offer the proper nutrition that ducks and geese need — and a diet heavy in breads and other empty carbohydrates can lead to severe health consequences. Overfeeding the improper foods to ducks and geese can also lead to additional environmental and public health problems.
Dr. Dave McRuer, the Wildlife Center’s director of veterinary services, was recently interviewed by The News Leader about this topic:
Bread, Snacks Fed by Visitors Harming Gypsy Hill Ducks, March 21, 2012
Additional information about this issue may be found in a paper written by Dr. McRuer on the consequences of feeding wild ducks in public parks.
If you’re headed to the park this weekend — take advantage of the waterfowl food that may be provided in dispensers at your park. Specific waterfowl food is a much better alternative to bread. If you do not have access to waterfowl food, pack a container of chopped up greens [kale, collards, dandelions – either from your refrigerator or yard (pesticide-free). Ducks eat a wide variety of aquatic plant life, and this is a much more nutritional source of food. Additionally, ducks and geese often eat insects — so a special treat of mealworms or freeze-dried crickets would also likely be enjoyed!
Of course, the bottom line is that wild ducks and geese should be able to find plenty of food on their own – so if you can resist the temptation to feed, simply pack your binocular and camera and enjoy just watching the birds instead.
From the Wildlife Center of Virginia.