Bread Is Bad for Ducks and the World Can’t Handle the Guilt

Posted by Paige Cerulli
duck eating crumbs from the floor

The truth comes out: Bread is bad for ducks, but the world can’t handle it. 

When you were a child, did you take stale bread down to the pond at the local park to feed the ducks? Feeding ducks bread is a tradition for many, but duck lovers are speaking out against this practice. Why? Because believe it or not, bread is bad for ducks. And while you may feel like you’re helping the ducks by feeding them bread, you may actually be harming them instead.

Perhaps you’ve seen this meme going around:

The world is feeling pretty guilty that they have been feeding ducks food that is bad for them.

But it’s hard to believe that bread is bad for ducks. After all, they love it, don’t they? Truth is, just like children, ducks would be happy to eat a diet consisting entirely of junk food with little nutritional value. And for ducks, that’s just what bread is.

“White bread in 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,” a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds told The Guardian during an interview.

birds with slices of bread

Since bread is junk food for ducks, it fills them up, meaning that they’re less likely to eat foods with nutritional value. Ducks that are fed bread may even become malnourished, and adult ducks eating bread may become fat and overweight.

But there’s another problem with feeding bread to ducks. Because of the high-calorie, low-nutrient diet that bread presents, young ducks can develop a condition called “angel wing.” Angel wing is a wing deformity which usually means that the ducks cannot fly. It’s incurable and can change a duck’s life forever.

Cute little boy feeding ducks in the pond in a city park. Germany

If ducks are fed so much bread that some of it goes uneaten, the uneaten bread poses another problem. The bread can grow mold which can make ducks sick. It can also contribute to algae growth in the water, which can kill animals and spread disease. Algal blooms can also do damage to the water quality and native aquatic plants of the river or lake.

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you can’t feed ducks at all. In fact, there are plenty of foods that ducks love that will provide them with the right nutrients. Ducks like lettuce, corn, frozen peas, seeds, oats, and rice. Canal and River Trust even did a test on which greens ducks like best.

In addition to bread, you should also avoid feeding ducks foods like avocados, onions, citrus, nuts, chocolate, and popcorn, as these are toxic.

And as for your old bread? It’s best to find another use for it, like bread pudding. Please don’t give it to the ducks.

Do you like to feed the ducks? Will you think twice about feeding birds bread now? Tell us in the comments below. 

WATCH NOW: Gaggle of Ducklings Saved off Train Tracks

Bread Is Bad for Ducks and the World Can’t Handle the Guilt