Daybreak Birds: Why You Should Not Feed Them

We know many Daybreak residents enjoy Oquirrh Lake and the waterfowl that make this area their home. But did you know that feeding ducks and geese, bread and even duck feed, is actually unhealthy and potentially dangerous for our feathered friends?

Bread and similar products such as crackers, chips, crisps, donuts, and popcorn are great sources of carbohydrates but they offer little nutritional value to wildlife. Waterfowl that is fed too much bread can suffer from excessive weight, malnutrition, as well as many other problems.

Not only can bread be fattening to ducks and make it harder for them to fly and otherwise evade predators, but feeding ducks bread can also lead to other serious problems.

Duckling Malnutrition: Ducklings require a varied diet and plenty of natural plants and insect proteins to mature properly. If ducks are regularly fed bread, ducklings will not receive adequate nutrition for proper growth and development. Furthermore, because ducks will eagerly seek out an easy food source such as human handouts, ducklings will not learn to forage for natural foods as easily. 

Overcrowding: Where an easy food source is abundant, ducks and other waterfowl will lay more eggs and the pond or lake will become overcrowded. This makes it more difficult for the birds to seek out healthier food sources and increases the likelihood of territorial aggression. In overcrowded areas, predators can also thrive and will impact other bird populations, and diseases can quickly spread through large flocks as well. 

Pollution: When too much bread is offered to ducks, not all of it will be eaten. Soggy, uneaten bread is unsightly and rotting bread can create noxious odors as well as lead to greater algae growth that can clog waterways and crowd out more desirable plants. This concentrates the pollution and can eventually eradicate fish, amphibians, crustaceans and other life in the vicinity, making good food sources even scarcer. 

Diseases: Feeding ducks bread can increase the spread of diseases in two ways. First, a carbohydrate-rich diet leads to greater defecation, and bird feces easily harbor bacteria responsible for numerous diseases. Second, moldy bread can cause aspergillosis, a fatal lung infection that can decimate entire duck and waterfowl flocks.

Pest Attraction: Rotting food leftover from sated ducks will attract other unwelcome pests such as rats, mice, and insects. These pests can also harbor additional diseases that can be dangerous to humans and can be threatening to other wildlife.

Loss of Natural Behavior: When birds become accustomed to handouts, they lose their natural fear of humans and may become aggressive in order to get more food. Their loss of fear can also cause other dangers, such as a willingness to cross busy roads in order to reach picnickers and other likely sources of food.

Duck Dumping: Feeding the birds around Oquirrh Lake actually encourages duck dumping. Duck dumping is when someone drops off a domesticated duck at a public or private lake. This activity is illegal. Please do not feed anything to any of the birds around Oquirrh Lake, including domesticated ducks.

What Can Daybreak Residents Do?

We are asking the residents of Daybreak to refrain from offering any food, including bread and even duck feed, to the birds to avoid nutritional problems, overpopulation and poor water quality. If you are concerned about Oquirrh Lake wildlife, please help protect them by not feeding them. 

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