I’m sure most of us are familiar with the movie Mary Poppins and the song “Feed the Birds”. I usually sing this song as a lullaby for my son. But don't follow this song's advice, it's a bad idea. Feeding the birds, while a common family pastime, could actually harm the birds.
Why You Shouldn’t Feed Birds and Wild Animals
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) discourages visitors from feeding ducks and geese and other waterfowl. Not only is it bad for the birds’ health, but it also creates environmental problems.
• Human feeding attracts large populations of birds to areas that can’t naturally support such numbers. Left on their own, birds will migrate to different areas to find food.
• The frenzy that occurs when humans feed birds can actually increase stress on birds, weakening them and making them more susceptible to disease. Not to mention, the birds also defecate in these feeding grounds.
• Survival in nature is usually based on survival of the fittest. “[A]rtificial feeding may allow frail birds to survive, reproduce, and diminish the species as a whole. (Mortality is normally high in bird populations; it’s a natural mechanism, important in maintaining populations that the environment can support.)” (1)
• Human feeding may attract birds that don’t normally come to the area which can result in different species mating and producing, thereby weakening the gene pool in certain species. “This is a rising problem in Mallard and black duck populations in Massachusetts.” (1)
• The fecal matter from these increased populations of waterfowl can affect water quality and compromise human health.
Bread Products can be Hazardous to Birds
Not only is feeding the animals and waterfowl a bad idea, but the fact that families often feed bread products to these animals and waterfowl makes the situation worse.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Britain say that ducks, geese and other waterfowl “are becoming malnourished and bloated from the bread, chips and junk food continually being thrown their way by well-meaning families.”