Warning over feeding bread to St Albans wildfowl

Verulamium Park

Verulamium Park - Credit: Archant

A call has been made for park users to feed geese and ducks with seeds and grain after it emerged that bread can be damaging to them.

Concern about the practice of feeding the wildlife with bread has been posted on a St Albans NCT website after a member of the parenting charity saw a Canada goose with severely damaged wings at Verulamium Park.

After speaking to a park warden, she discovered that it was a condition known as Angel Wing which is caused by malnutrition in pregnant waterfowl, mainly due to excessive amounts of bread.

She is now questioning why there are not signs warning about the dangers of bread to water fowl and advising people to use seeds and grains which are safe to use.

Describing the condition caused by the feeding of bread as “truly horrific”, she said: “I was ashamed that I did not know about this especially after just feeding the ducks and swans and geese with my daughter.”

Jon Green, St Albans council’s green spaces manager, said the council was currently working on new signage for the park that would help explain the situation.

He went on: “When ducks, geese and other waterfowl are fed bread their health can suffer. Bread is a carbohydrate, low in protein and contains ingredients that waterfowl find hard to digest.

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“In places where waterfowl are fed large amounts of bread they can be found to suffer from poor nutrition. There may also be some birds who suffer from Angel Wing, a condition often caused by a high intake of protein and carbohydrates and a lack of essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin E.”

He added: “We are therefore asking people not to feed bread to the waterfowl on the lake in Verulamium Park. The council has in the past published a leaflet explaining why bread should not be fed to waterfowl and the negative impact this activity has on the environment.”