A photo of a sign instructing people to stop starving ducks and feed them bread is currently doing the rounds on Facebook and has turned up on a local page, with the consequence of people choosing for and against sides about how to feed Belper ducks. Belper ducks are Belper residents too, so in their best interests we contacted the RSPB for some proper advice, from experts who really know the right answer.
The RSPB told us that although bread won’t kill ducks, they should only have it if it is part of a balanced diet.
This advice is the same for swans and other waterfowl.
Ducks should not eat all the bread that all the children and adults in a town might supply. There are much healthier things which they should eat.
A spokesperson for the RSPB said:
For many of us feeding the ducks or swans is our first memory of interacting with nature in the wild, this experience can be an important step towards understanding our natural world and appreciating that we all play a role in caring for it.
Just like us, birds need a varied diet to stay healthy. Although ducks and swans can digest all types of bread, too much can leave them feeling full without giving them all of the important vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need.
So, although bread isn’t harmful our advice is to only feed small amounts to birds. We encourage people to use things like sweetcorn, porridge oats, crumbled biscuits and defrosted frozen peas as well as bird seed.”
They also advised that uneaten bread can lead to algae and attract vermin, so if a warning to not feed ducks bread is present, there may well be a very good reason for the ban – improving water quality, and detering vermin.
A loaf of bread costs 50p-£1.50. Porridge oats are 75p in Morrisons. Frozen peas are 79p in Aldi. Sweetcorn is 35p a bag in Morrisons.
We care about our ducks. Belper ducks are clearly the best ducks, so let’s give them food which is good for them, then they neither starve nor suffer. And the next generation will learn to improve on our good will.
Photo: Clare Washbrook