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Please Don’t Feed The Ducks!

Posted by Woodlands Traveler on February 18, 2013 in Recreation |

Waterfowl In The Woodlands

Spring is in the air, which means spending more time at all of the parks and ponds here in The Woodlands. Most all of the ponds around The Woodlands are home to a host of wildlife, including fish, turtles, herons, egrets, and of course, geese and ducks. Who doesn’t have fond childhood memories of feeding ducks in the park or watching their own children feed them?

can you feed the ducks in the woodlands?

Unfortunately, though, not only are signs posted at all ponds throughout The Woodlands expressly prohibiting the feeding of ducks, more importantly, doing so is unhealthy for the ducks. Feeding the ducks at the ponds here in The Woodlands causes:

Unnatural behavior – The natural behavior of wild ducks is to spend most of their time in the water and steer clear of humans. Ducks which are used to being fed will hang around on the shore instead, waiting for food. Depending on where the park is located, this can sometimes lead to dangerous behavior, such as crossing a busy road to get where they’re used to being fed.

mallard ducks in the woodlands

Overcrowding – Too many chiefs, not enough Indians? Too many ducks in one area will lead to territorial aggression – both among the ducks, and in some cases, towards the very children that just wanted to feed them in the first place. While rare, ducks and geese around here have been known to chase and bite.

pekin ducks in the woodlands

Poor nutrition – Ducks eating human foods will suffer from malnutrition. Bread, crackers, chips, donuts and popcorn are a great source of carbohydrates – but they offer little other nutritional value for ducks. In fact, bread is the equivalent to junk food for the birds. The ducks and geese fill up on bread and crackers, instead of eating the nutritious, natural foods they need. This in turn will cause the ducks to suffer from heart disease, liver problems and excessive weight gain.

mallards and pekin ducks in the woodlands

Also problematic is the ducklings will not learn to forage for food, and will therefore be unable to survive without human help.

Spread of disease – All that bread, buns and crackers which are not eaten by the ducks will be left to rot. Ducks also poop in the place where they eat, further adding to the unhygienic nature of the area. Young children, elderly and those with compromised immune systems can easily be infected by disease. Additionally, rats, mice and insects will also be attracted to the food, causing more spread of pestilence and disease.

muscovy ducks in the woodlands

Pollution – Rotting bread in the water will cause algae growth; a far more serious problem in some of our smaller ponds than Lake Woodlands, but it can still cause the under-oxygenation of the water, which will eradicate fish and other wildlife that live in or near the water.

egyptian geese in the woodlands

The best thing to do would be to obey the signs and not feed the ducks at all. But kids are kids, and if you’re going to let them feed the ducks, give them nutritious food instead. You can purchase commercial duck feed, cracked corn, barley, oats, birdseed or other grains – or give them grapes cut in half, a thawed bag of frozen peas or corn, or kale, romaine or other leafy greens.

Finally, if you’re feeding ducks as a way to avoid waste, a better solution would be to add your bread to a compost pile, or use stale bread in recipes such as croutons, bread pudding and stuffing.

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