Bread and similar products such as crackers, chips, donuts and popcorn offer little nutritional value for ducks, geese, and other birds. In fact, bread is the equivalent to junk food for the birds, and too much bread can lead to excessive weight and malnutrition as well as other issues.
Problems With Feeding the Ducks
Feeding birds at all can lead to several problems for us and for the birds:
Malnutrition: when birds are fed regularly, babies do not receive adequate nutrition for proper growth and will not learn to forage for natural foods.
Overcrowding: Where easy food is abundant, birds will lay more eggs making it difficult for them to seek healthy food sources and increases the likelihood of territorial aggression.
Pollution: When birds are unnaturally gathered in a feeding area, their waste creates problems on the ground in our water. Two watersheds in Bothell are currently listed as in trouble because of the amount of fecal matter in the streams. This bacteria makes contact with the water a human health risk.
Disease: Feeding birds can increase the spread of disease in three ways: by causing them to come in closer contact than they would normally, by causing increased defecation that harbors bacteria that is responsible for numerous diseases, and moldy bread can cause a fatal lung infection that can decimate entire waterfowl flocks.
Unwanted Pests: Food attracts unwelcome pests like mice, rats and insects. These pests harbor additional diseases that can be dangerous to humans.
Loss of Natural Behavior: When birds become accustomed to handouts, they lose their natural fear of humans and can become aggressive.
Habitat Degradation: Providing food attracts concentrations of birds beyond what the natural ecosystem can support. Large concentrations can de-vegetate natural areas causing erosion, increase fecal matter in ground and surface water, and an unsightly mess for others using the space.