Though taking bread to “feed the birds” at area ponds and lakes is a fun tradition for many families, the City’s Health Department wants to remind everyone that more harm than good comes from continuing that practice. Human food is not good for ducks, geese and other waterfowl, and the daily onslaught of “treats” from well-meaning visitors can cause the birds to stop seeking food elsewhere. When birds’ diets consist mainly of foods such as bread, popcorn, french fries and chips, they become malnourished and don’t get vital nutrients, resulting in deformed wings, a decrease in reproductive rates, low energy, loss of flight ability and an increased susceptibility to predators.

In addition, this “extra food” causes larger than normal populations of waterfowl to flock to our parks’ waterways, smothering grass and leading to bare shorelines and erosion as well as a large amount of excrement in the water that causes algae bloom and kills fish.

If left to fend for themselves, the birds will receive everything they need from nature to stay healthy—including earthworms, small fish and fish eggs, seeds, algae and aquatic plants, amphibians and insects.

For ways to continue to enjoy waterfowl without feeding them, as well as a more in-depth look at the issue of feeding waterfowl, click here.