Why feeding the birds in Verulamium Park is bad for them and their habitat

Don't feed the birds in Verulamium Park.

Don't feed the birds in Verulamium Park. - Credit: Archant

Don’t feed the birds! That is the clear warning to visitors of Verulamium Park in St Albans.

Not only does feeding encourage overcrowding with more birds coming to the park than the natural habitat can cope with, but it also discourages birds from natural migration and lowers the water quality of the park’s artificial lakes.

Food such as bread can make the ducks, swans, geese and other birds ill as it contains ingredients that they cannot digest properly.

Park owners St Albans district council has actively discouraged feeding over the past few years, but in recent weeks park visitor numbers have risen sharply with pubs, restaurants, gyms and other leisure facilities closed during the COVID-19 lockdown.

This has led to concern that feeding may increase while picnickers may fail to clear up and leave food waste behind.

Increasing amounts of bird droppings and uneaten bread will contribute towards a build-up of unsightly algae, lowering water quality.

Algae reduces oxygen levels in the lake, making it difficult for fish to survive, and can also result in an unpleasant smell.

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The council is asking people to support their efforts to keep the park in the best possible condition by not feeding birds.

Cllr Anthony Rowlands, portfolio holder for leisure, heritage and public realm, said: “I appreciate that feeding birds is a natural thing to do and people mean absolutely no harm by it.

“However, I am asking people to refrain from doing so because of the problems that it can contribute to.

“There are signs embedded in the lakes that reinforces that message, urging people not to be tempted to feed and explaining some of the surrounding issues.

“It is great to see so many more people enjoying the great outdoors and exploring this fabulous park. We just ask that they help us by not giving into temptation and feeding the birds.”