Posted May 18, 2018 by Raewyn Overton-Stuart  Back to Articles

I remember as a child it was a total treat to go and feed bread to the ducks.  Now, decades later, it’s still an activity that families love to do – in Whanganui there are always ducks being fed at Virginia Lake.  It is just something that kiwi families love to do!  So I was surprised and saddened when I read today’s paper to see that this popular activity is actually causing harm to the ducks – in many cases they are malnourished and dying.

South Island Wildlife Hospital spokeswoman Angela Tranter said one of the negative effects of feeding bread to birds could cause a debilitating condition known as angel wing.  She said this left affected birds’ wings pointing out laterally, “rather than resting against the body, rendering them in many cases unable to fly – which could obviously be fatal. “It’s an incurable condition brought about as a result of a high-calorie diet, one extremely high in protein and carbohydrates and low in vitamins D, E and manganese – the exact diet a bird would get if they primarily ate white bread.”

So what should you feed ducks?  According to this article, the following:

* Wheat, barley or similar grains
* Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick)
* Rice (cooked or uncooked)
* Birdseed (any type or mix)
* Grapes (cut in half or quartered if very large)
* Nut hearts or pieces (any type but without salt or flavouring)
* Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
* Earthworms
* Mealworms (fresh or dried)
* Chopped lettuce or other salad mixes
* Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped)

So, that’s food for thought!  (Or maybe food for ducks!)… what will you take to feed the ducks next time?