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Please don't feed the birds
Don't feed wild birds1.jpg
Removal of the bird seed dispensers at Riverfront Park has done little to deter people from a tradition of feeding the wild birds that reside there. According to information presented by Dr. Wally Bigbee, people are endangering the health of the birds by continuing to feed them. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

If you love the wild birds at Riverfront Park, don’t feed them. 

What seems harmless and is probably viewed as a tradition in most families is actually detrimental to a bird’s health.

Dr. Wally Bigbee says bread is harmful to humans and birds.

“Unfortunately, many people feed themselves and birds harmful white, flour bread products which are not an accepted food for birds or humans,” said Bigbee. “Having fed the ducks for a long time at the park and it being fun does not make it right for ducks, geese, or people.”

According to information presented by Bigbee and obtained from curious.com, providing them with an unhealthy diet will leave them malnourished. 

“White bread has essentially no nutritional value – it is packed full of calories and has little else to offer,” said Robin Andrews. “Continuously feeding it to birds causes them to rely on us for a food source rather than their natural diet. It’s the equivalent of only feeding your children unhealthy foods. They’ll eventually get addicted to it, and will find it very difficult eating, or wanting to eat, anything else. So, at the very least, feeding ducks bread is giving them a readily accessible unhealthy diet, leaving them ultimately malnourished.” 

Andrews said people are doing the birds more harm than good and that prolonged exposure to an unhealthy diet can result in damage to the birds in a condition called Angel Wing, which renders them unable to fly in some cases.

Bigbee points to the situation at Riverfront Park and adds there are additional reasons why people should stop feeding those birds.

“Not mentioned in this article is the collection of duck’s feces with harmful bacteria on the ground where children play and in the water that we drink,” said Bigbee. “The large mass of ducks and geese at Riverfront Park produce a large amount of feces on the area where people walk. They gather it on their shoes and track it into their cars and homes. The feces always contains large amounts of harmful E coli and Salmonella bacteria that can cause diarrhea and sometimes death. This should be avoided.” 

Feeding the birds encourages them to remain at Riverfront Park when they should leave. Bigbee urged residents to stop feeding the ducks and geese at Riverfront Park and never feed any birds food consumed by people.