Now that it’s spring people will be coming outdoors and walking in the parks and forest preserves. They will be admiring the wonderful sights of nature and wanting to interact with the ducks, geese and seagulls, among other things. They will bring their children to teach them about nature and they will bring bags of bread, chips, crackers or some other type of food to feed to the birds.
To these people I say,
Birds don’t eat bread! Birds don’t eat potato chips! They don’t eat crackers either.
I understand the need to feel close to nature. We want to feel like we are a part of it but there is a right way and a wrong way to participate. The wrong way is to feed ducks, geese and seagulls bread, chips, crackers and other man-made foods.
These foods have no nutritional value for them and very little for humans as well.
When the birds feast on foods like chips and bread they get full and then don’t eat the foods they need for proper nutrition like insects, aquatic plants, roots, seed, grain, grass, worms, fish, etc. They become malnourished and suffer poor health. They can even lose their ability to fly.
The other problem is that many people leave food. This creates an abundance of easy food and will attract a large number of birds in one location. That creates overcrowding which promotes the spread of disease. Large numbers of birds can be affected and die.
Aspergillosis, a fatal lung disease caused from moldy bread, is just one of them. There is also avian influenza and avian botulism among others.
Too many ducks and geese in one area creates an abundance of feces which will pollute a pond and kill the fish.
Left over food that is not eaten pollutes the pond, lake or environment as well as attracts rodents that can also carry disease.
Being fed by a human is not natural behavior for wild birds and animals. It makes them lose their fear of humans and they can become aggressive or less careful.
If you feed the seagulls in a parking lot you are attracting them to an area that is more dangerous to them. They can get so intent on getting their share that they are not as watchful and careful. They can be hit by cars or expose themselves to predators.
Birds and animals know how to find the food they need to remain healthy. You can enjoy and participate in nature by helping to keep parks and forest preserves clean. Keep your distance from the birds and let them source their own natural foods. Teach your children to have respect for the plants and environment that provides natural foods for the birds.
Another way to participate is to learn about nature and ways to help keep it healthy. Be conscious about the products you use that end up in the environment. Plant native plants in your yard that support the wildlife in your area.
Most of all, please do not feed birds and animals human foods.