Wildlife Wednesday 05/29/2024

Happy #WildlifeWednesday! This week we are talking about waterfowl! It is the delightful time of year known as “baby bird season” and geese and ducks can be spotted swimming and waddling around with their numerous adorable offspring in tow.

Popular culture has historically depicted tossing bread, crackers, and popcorn to the endearing goslings and ducklings as appropriate, but human food is very harmful to wild animals. These products are filling but do not have many nutrients, so feeding them to waterfowl prevents the birds from finding the healthy food in nature they need to grow and survive. 

Improper diets can lead to serious health problems, such as metabolic bone disease and angel wing syndrome. Birds with MBD have soft weak bones as a result of deficiencies of minerals such as calcium. They often cannot fly or defend themselves as a result. Birds with angel wing grow at an abnormally quick rate due to high protein and high calorie diets, and in the process their wing joints become twisted and their primary flight feathers are deformed. These birds usually are unable to fly and may be rejected from their flocks.

Excess food at a body of water where waterfowl live can result in overcrowding. The high concentration of animals leads to increased territoriality as well as risk of spreading disease. The birds can also become habituated to humans if they get fed frequently by people. Predators may also be attracted to the area due to the surplus of food and prey animals.

Allowing waterfowl to forage for natural provisions on their own is best, but if you do choose to feed them do so in moderation, and take care to offer a healthy selection. Instead of processed junk food, feed them chopped leafy greens, shredded vegetables (carrots are a good choice), sliced fruits (grapes and berries), grains, oats, and bird seed.

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