Want to feed the ducks? Try these tricks instead of bread
Despite the many signs at your local pond asking people not to feed the ducks, there always seems to be at least one person handing out crumbs to the cackling crowd of animals.
While they might be thinking that they're doing the waterfowl some good, bread can actually be harmful for ducks, as it usually contains salt.
Large quantities of dry bread can swell up in the animal's stomach or throat after drinking and lead to choking, warned biologist Eva Lindenschmidt, a wildlife expert at a German animal sanctuary.
Meanwhile, whole rolls or slices of bread often end up in the water, as they're usually much too big for ducks to chew on. The leftover food then sinks to the bottom and ends up rotting, causing further harm by consuming oxygen during the decomposition process that's needed by fish and underwater plants.
If the water is very polluted, the oxygen content can drop to such an extent that the fish die and plants perish, said the wildlife expert.
Yet, if you still want to feed the ducks, here are some tips for safer alternatives to try.
Feeding the ducks: No bread needed
For those who still don't want to give up feeding the ducks at their local park, Lindenschmidt advised not giving them dry bread at all.
Instead, it's better to feed them special food for waterfowl from the pet shop. Ducks also like and can better tolerate oatmeal or fruit cut into small pieces.
However, the food should not be thrown into the pond, but be given to the birds when they're on land.
But make sure not to feed them out of your hand, as it's important that the animals maintain their natural shyness. Otherwise, they can easily become victims of dogs, cats, or road traffic.
Try to hand out an amount of food that the animals can eat in a short period of time. If there are leftovers, collect the food and dispose of it.
You, and the ducks, will be happier for it.
Cover photo: Collage: Unspalsh/anchorlee & Ross Sokolovski