[CT Birds] no feeding waterfowl?

COMINS, Patrick PCOMINS at audubon.org
Sat Feb 13 10:28:33 EST 2010

It is partly a water quality issue, because large, permanent aggregations of waterfowl can cause high bacteria levels and nitrification of a water body.  This problem is much more acute with their congregatory and aquatic habits and larger body mass as compared to songbirds.  Also since most of the time, such feeding is with junk food and the poor diet involved may be doing more harm than good.  It is also felt that it gives a competitive advantage to introduced non-native generalist species such as Mallard, resident Canada Goose and Mute Swan.  Mallards, though native to North America, were originally predominantly a prairie pothole nester and were historically found only as migrants and winter visitors.   They were introduced and/or escaped from farms and this also likely encouraged a range expansion.  This can cause problems in areas (like our area) were closely-related Anas waterfowl are native, e.g. American Black Ducks, Mottled Duck, Hawaiian Duck, Laysan Duck, because Mallards readily hybridize with the natives and dilute the integrity of the gene pool.   In our area, many of the American Black Ducks you find are actually hybrid black duck X Mallard.  Canada Geese, are of course, also native to North America, but have been introduced as nesters to areas where they aren't native nesters and have a competitive advantage by not having to brave the hazards of migratory living.  Mute Swans are not native to North America at all.  For these reasons, the DEP would not be happy about a program to install food dispensers for feeding waterfowl.

Patrick Comins, Meriden

From: ctbirds-bounces at lists.ctbirding.org [ctbirds-bounces at lists.ctbirding.org] On Behalf Of Donna [sunny19682 at comcast.net]
Sent: Saturday, February 13, 2010 9:48 AM
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org
Subject: [CT Birds] no feeding waterfowl?

I'm curious... why is feeding waterfowl discouraged if people are willing to feed them the right foods and not breads?  I could understand if it's private property, but is this the deal even for public places?  It was a common practice when I was a child... one of the ways that got me really interested in birds was going to the New Haven Green to feed the pigeons and locally to feed ducks.  I've gone numerous times to the local supply ponds and gently educated folks who were with their kids feeding bread to ducks.  If approached nicely, they do understand the harm bread causes the birds.

I'd be interested in the reasoning behind this if there is a problem.  I mean if it's ok for folks all over to feed yard birds, what makes waterfowl any different if the right foods are offered?  Not trying to whack a hornets nest - just curious as to why the practice is discouraged - or is it just because of this particular location being private property or business property?  Besides, if the right foods are offered, why not set up little dispensers with "duck chow" at public places?  It would make some money for local municipalities while allowing the birds to be fed the "right stuff" and for people to enjoy an old practice with their kids.

Donna Lorello
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