Feeding ducks, geese, and swans at the pond is pastime many of us hold dear. We can remember saving the end pieces of bread loaves that nobody ever wanted just so we could give it to our aquatic bird friends at the local pond. We would always get so excited when we arrived at a lakeshore to be greeted by a crowd of hungry waterfowl, eagerly awaiting whatever goodies we had brought for them. Unfortunately, feeding bread to birds causes more harm than good.
Without a proper diet, birds are at risk of developing a condition called “angel wing,” a disorder that causes the last joint in their wing to twist outward rather than lay flat against their body. Feeding bread to a bird may be a fleeting moment of entertainment to us, but for birds in parks who have learned to rely on humans for food, it can be a death sentence. Without the ability to take flight, birds are at a greater risk of being caught by predators and their ability to escape dangerous weather conditions is diminished. In this photo posted by Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort (AWARE), you can see a young Canada goose who’s been affected by angel wing.
This little gosling is lucky to be under the care of humans, but he’d probably prefer to be splashing around in a pond.
You can help prevent angel wings by ensuring that you never give food to birds that puts them at risk. But first, you should identify whether or not feeding the waterfowl is allowed at your local pond. In addition to bread, birds should never be given popcorn and crackers. We can still enjoy our pastime of feeding birds at the pond as long as we give them the right type of food, like kale, chard, oats, barley, or seedless grapes cut in half. Some parks will even offer feed that will provide the waterfowl with all the nutrition they need. And of course, if you see somebody giving bread to birds, inform them — it’s only a matter of spreading awareness to help our feathered friends.
Lead image source: Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort/Facebook