I was listening to a programme on Radio 4 this afternoon about the impact of feeding bread to ducks. The actual piece was more about turning old bread into a biofuel that creates electricity but the duck thing was very interesting.
The interviewer spoke to a woman with a five year old child. The woman said that they came down to the pond every few days and fed the ducks. The only reason she did it was because it was a cheap trip outside the house. When the interviewer told the woman that the bread was dangerous because it shortened the life of the ducks the woman didn’t seem that bothered.
As a woman from the RSPB said: “White bread in particular has no real nutritional value, so while birds may find it tasty, the danger is that they will fill up on it instead of other foods that could be more beneficial to them.”
One estimate I read was that six million loaves of bread were fed to ducks in England and Wales in 2015. That is a LOT of bread.
According to the programme I was listening to, bread shortens the ducks lives from 10 to around 4 years. It makes them aggressive and antisocial because they don’t have to search for their food. It’s the carbohydrates. They are poison for the ducks. They make them overweight and lethargic. They take risks rather than forage.
People don’t understand what they are doing because they’ve “always fed the ducks and there’s still ducks!“. I came across this argument a lot. The one that claims because something has always been done that it makes it okay to keep doing. My stock answer to that would be, why then did women stop putting mercury on their faces?
In effect, the duck bread feeding people say it’s an innocent pleasure. Well, it’s not for the ducks. And there are alternatives.
The RSPB suggest, rather than bread, feed the ducks oats, corn, or defrosted frozen peas. And don’t always feed them in the same place. What happens is the ducks realise that you come there every day so they hang around and wait. This means the area gets far more duck poo spread over it and then the ducks get infected and die even quicker.
When asked what they could do with all the stale bread they had, the answer was “Make a bread pudding!”
Now, honestly, do you really hate ducks that much?