As many of you know there has been a lot of debate about feeding swans and other waterfowl bread. We have always maintained that feeding them bread is fine, so where do you stand?
‘There has been a great deal of press coverage in recent months regarding the ‘Ban the Bread’ campaign which is confusing many members of the public who like to feed swans. Supporters of the campaign claim that bread should not be fed to swans on the grounds that it is bad for them. This is not correct. Swans have been fed bread for many hundreds of years without causing any ill effects. While bread may not be the best dietary option for swans compared to their natural food such as river weed, it has become a very important source of energy for them, supplementing their natural diet and helping them to survive the cold winter months when vegetation is very scarce.
There is no good reason not to feed bread to swans, provided it is not mouldy. Most households have surplus bread and children have always enjoyed feeding swans with their parents. The ‘Ban the Bread’ campaign is already having a deleterious impact upon the swan population; I am receiving reports of underweight cygnets and adult birds, and a number of swans from large flocks have begun to wander into roads in search of food. This poses the further risk of swans being hit by vehicles. Malnutrition also increases their vulnerability to fatal diseases like avian-flu which has caused the deaths of many mute swans and other waterfowl in the past.
Furthermore, there have been statements made in the media claiming that feeding bread causes angel-wing in swans. Angel-wing is a condition where a cygnet develops a deformed wing. Professor Christopher Perrins, LVO, FRS of the Department of Zoology at Oxford University stated, ‘There is no evidence of a connection between feeding bread and angel-wing; at least some cygnets develop this condition without ever having seen any bread’.
I therefore encourage members of the public to continue feeding swans to help improve their chances of survival, especially through the winter.’
We’d like to Thank every one for their support and we hope that this will help these beautiful birds.
And then we get this:
Pet food brand WildThings has teamed up with rescue charity Swan Lifeline for a new campaign to ‘Ban the Bread’ from rivers, lakes and ponds.
The company aims to educate the public about the dangers of feeding loaves and crusts to ducks, swans, geese and other waterfowl.
The traditional family pastime stretches back centuries, but bread – particularly the white processed variety – can lead to major problems for aquatic birds and their environment, WildThings warns.
Swan Lifeline, based at Cuckoo Weir Island, in Berkshire, less than a mile from The Queen’s Windsor estate, has rescued and treated more than 30,000 birds over the last 25 years.
Trustee Caroline Simpson said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with WildThings on this new and very important campaign.
“Feeding aquatic birds such as ducks and swans inappropriate food can cause all sorts of problems, including Angel Wing which makes them incapable of flying.
“It can be sorted if we can get them when they are very young – the treatment involves splinting the wing. But if we don’t get to them quickly enough the wing has to be amputated.
“All wild birds have to live in a natural environment and that means they need to be able to fly, otherwise they can’t be left in the wild.”
The Canal and River Trust, which works to protect the 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, has put its support behind Ban the Bread.
“We welcome any campaign that educates the public on the dangers of feeding bread to ducks, swans and other waterfowl, which is a major issue,” a spokesman said.
“Lack of nutritional value, encouraging algae growth and attracting vermin to canals and rivers are just some of the problems it creates.
“But ‘Banning the Bread’ doesn’t mean people cannot still enjoy the experience of feeding the ducks.
“Instead, we recommend sweetcorn, lettuce, frozen peas, oats, bird seed and rice as great alternatives.”
WildThings, which is manufactured by Lancashire-based Pets Choice as part of its Spike’s World range, has a selection of products for wild animals.
As part of the campaign it is working with wildlife centre visitors and schoolchildren through leaflets, activity sheets and samples. A website has also been created to offer easy-to-access information.
So, where do you stand here? Do you still feed the swans bread? If not, why not?