Bird experts caution against feeding bread to waterfowl after 2 Winnipeg mallards found with ‘angel wing’


Manitoba fowl experts are warning the general public to assume twice about feeding bread to wild birds after two mallards had been seen at Winnipeg’s St. Vital Park with indicators of a situation often known as angel wing — a syndrome that impacts aquatic birds like geese and geese and may completely deform their wings.

Angel wing is attributable to a dietary deficiency that comes from people feeding wild birds meals excessive in carbohydrates and sugar, akin to bread.

“As a end result, the rising feathers are too heavy and trigger the bone to begin hanging and twisting outwards,” mentioned Angie Furniss, rehabilitation supervisor at Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre in Île-des-Chênes, Man.

The dysfunction causes speedy development of all of the fowl’s feathers which can be related to their muscle improvement, inflicting the feathers to stick out, mentioned Furniss. The birds are then unable to maintain their wings shut to their our bodies, leaving them on the trail to a horrific dying as they’re incapable of migrating south.

“I might say at any park — we shouldn’t be feeding birds at this moment,” Furniss advised host Keisha Paul throughout a Sunday interview with CBC’s Weekend Morning Show.

Angel wing can solely be repaired in birds which can be younger, and it is uncommon for grownup birds to survive the situation on their very own, she mentioned.

“[Bread] fills them up, after which they do not need to go and eat nutritious meals.”

Wildlife Haven was receiving 10 cellphone calls a day from individuals who had seen the 2 mallards with deformed wings at St. Vital’s duck pond, in accordance to Furniss. Staff had been despatched to retrieve the birds on Thursday, who will probably require euthanasia, she mentioned.

Throwing bread into duck ponds can also be not a terrific concept because the meals can flip mouldy and appeal to rodents, mentioned Furniss. It can also lead to overcrowding amongst the birds, which isn’t very best given current surges in avian influenza.

“People do not realize by simply feeding [the birds] bread, it is inflicting extra than simply the angel wing.”

Cut up lettuce and cracked corn are secure choices if feeding wild birds is a should, mentioned Furniss. 

Good intentions, unwell impact of feeding birds

People who feed birds imagine they’re doing the correct factor, she mentioned, and it comes from an excellent place, however Furniss says it’s our duty to assist stop angel wing.

She’d like to see extra training in regards to the dysfunction for the general public.

“We’re those who’re inflicting it, so we are the ones who needs to be fixing it.”

Heather Hinam, president and CEO of Second Nature Creative (*2*), says individuals typically feed birds as a result of they need to really feel a connection with nature.

People feeding wildlife and posting it to social media is a part of the issue too, she says. While the posts could not appear damaging on the floor, Hinam says they perpetuate a dependance on people for meals, which harms wildlife.

“People simply need to be that Disney princess … [but] you are in the end hurting them greater than you are serving to them,” she mentioned.

Hinam was glad to hear that the 2 mallards at St. Vital Park obtained picked up, however it’s the primary time in years that she’s heard of angel wing in Manitoba, she mentioned.

‘Just take pleasure in wildlife being wild’

Visiting St. Vital Park up to now, Hinam says she observed the indicators that discourage feeding birds weren’t as eye-catching as she’d hoped. She additionally mentioned not everybody is in a position to learn them.

The indicators may have a stronger influence in the event that they advised individuals in regards to the everlasting injury that feeding birds bread may cause, in accordance to Hinam.

“Do the indicators even say ‘Don’t feed the birds as a result of it might probably trigger everlasting disfiguration’? Maybe that is what we want,” she mentioned.

“Just saying ‘Don’t feed the birds,’ would not inform them why.”

Hinam says she’d additionally like to see an training marketing campaign to dissuade feeding bread to birds, so individuals can concentrate on the results to their actions.

Sometimes nature wants to be loved from an out of doors perspective, she mentioned, and people do not want to insert themselves into each state of affairs.

“Just take pleasure in wildlife being wild.”


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