OWATONNA — With the weather hot and the kids home for summer, it won’t be long until every park in Owatonna is packed with family and youth ready to soak in every second they can of their favorite season.
People won’t be the only ones flocking to the parks, however, as ducks also bask in the summertime glory.
Elated with their presence, a lot of people take great pleasure with feeding their favorite feathered friends. What many people don’t know, though, is that they may be harming their flat footed companions with the food they have been choosing to feed them.
According to National Geographic, feedings ducks bread is essentially feeding them hordes of junk food.
“White bread is 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,” said a spokesperson for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Therefore, despite a duck’s gusto for bread, it is actually quite crummy for their tummy.
This includes all products that are similar to bread, such as crackers, chips, crisps, donuts, cereal, and popcorn. While they are great sources of carbohydrates, they offer little to no nutritional value for ducks, geese, swans, and other birds.
Other than the fact that bread doesn’t add any value to a duck’s health, the leftovers have a ripple effect. When enough calorie-rich foods accumulate in a lake or pond, they can trigger algae blooms that deplete oxygen from the water. Known as hypoxia, this can wipe out pond life and rob birds of natural food supplies. On land, moldy bread lying around is particularly dangerous if ducks eat them, causing a fatal lung infection that can decimate entire duck and waterfowl flocks.
The Owatonna Parks and Recreation Department is well aware of the dangers that come with ducks overindulging in bread, or even leaving some behind, but doesn’t want to discourage people from enjoying feeding the waterfowl this summer. In Morehouse Park there is a sign offering visitors alternatives for better, healthier snacks to feed to the waterfowls that also frequent the park. The items listed include grains, grapes cut in half for easy digestion, peas and other cut up green vegetables, duck pellets, birdseed, corn, oats, and cooked rice.
And don’t worry about a bird’s stomach exploding after ingesting rice. That’s just an old urban legend.