29 Mar Why Feeding Ducks and Geese Can Actually Hurt Them
Dallas Parks and Recreation and Dallas Animal Services representatives have spotted large quantities of corn and bread being left at our water sources or fed directly to our ducks and geese, particularly at White Rock Lake. This poses a serious risk to our bird populations.
Feeding the ducks and geese might seem like a fun weekend activity, but it can actually harm our wildlife. When water fowl are fed by the public, they have unusually high rates of success in breeding. Nature is all about balance, and causing any disruption to that balance can have serious consequences for our ecosystems. The increase in bird feces causes an increase in bacteria levels in our water sources. The high calorie bread diet can cause abnormalities in bird development and even cause an imbalance in male to female sex ratios among the population. Overpopulation can cause abnormal behavior and increase the prevalence and rate of spread of disease.
Another awful consequence of feeding the ducks is a deformity known as “angel wing.” This is a twisting of the final joint on a bird’s wing that renders them unable to fly. This is caused by a diet that is too high in calories, an imbalance in carbohydrates versus protein and fat, and malnutrition caused by lack or overabundance of key nutrients.
Food that is left on the shores of our water sources can also cause increased activity at the shoreline that contributes to erosion, bacterial spread, and increase in disease. That pile of corn looks like a very tasty treat to a family of rodents. Rodents spread disease and attract predators that like to eat rodents, namely coyotes. Coyotes are scavengers and will seek out the forms of food that involve the least amount of effort for them to obtain. That includes a pile of food or trash, and the small animals attracted to that litter.
We are also seeing an increase of bird strikes at our local airports due to overpopulation of our bird species. Bird strikes are no joke – remember Captain Sully landing on the Hudson River? He had to do that after birds flew into the plane, disabling both engines. Thanks to his quick thinking, no human lives were lost, but sadly many birds perished in the accident and afterwards. Without a need to compete for resources, birds will continue to overbreed and cause safety issues for both vehicles and planes.
For all of the above reasons, it is critical that the public does not feed our wild waterfowl. Help our wildlife thrive under the conditions nature intended and only eat the food they are built to eat. Let wildlife be wild and do not feed the birds!