Should we feed the ducks at Jensen Pond? In many cases, the answer to this question is actually… No.
When it comes to feeding ducks, the most common choice for many people is bread. Despite our best intentions, however, bread can actually be detrimental to a duck’s health. According to the National Geographic Education Blog (https://blog.education.nationalgeographic.org), a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds declared that “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.” So bread, especially white bread, is like feeding the ducks junk food!
So how bad is it for ducks, really? The following is list of reasons that bread is harmful for ducks:
• Bread keeps ducklings from learning how to forage healthy food for themselves. They lose the skills needed to survive.
• Over-dependence on human-supplied food “domesticates” the ducks so they cannot survive naturally, nor do they migrate, which contributes to over population of the pond.
• Overpopulation of ducks degrades the quality of the water at Jensen Pond, which is harmful to the ducks and other wildlife, and may effect the quality of the City’s secondary water system.
• According to National Geographic, a high-carbohydrate, high-protein diet is associated with a wing deformity known as “angel wing” or “airplane wing”. Angel wing is a condition where the last joint on the wing is distorted and causes the end feathers to stick out laterally—sideways—instead of lying flat against the body. This prevents the bird from flying.
• Uneaten bread crumbs attract predators, and grow mold that makes ducks and other riparian critters sick.
• Uneaten bread crumbs contribute to the growth of harmful algae in the water.
So is it bad to feed the ducks anything?
While over-dependence on human-supplied food can still create problems. The City understands that feeding the ducks has been a tradition for a long time. Duck feeding should be kept to a minimum, but if you do feed them, please select from the following list of foods: cucumber, corn, peas, beans, broccoli, beets, squash, flowers, alfalfa, tomatoes, eggplant, bananas (no peel), pineapple, pomegranate seeds, scrambled eggs, dry cat food or dog food, and rice. Also, when feeding ducks, always take small quantities and ensure the food is either eaten or picked up and thrown in the trash in order maintain the cleanliness of the park.