Geese & Ducks

Wagga Wagga City Council is launching a community education program to help provide the city’s ducks and geese with a safe and healthy environment.

Part of this program involves letting the public know that feeding these waterfowl foods for humans is not in the best interests of the birds and can lead to them suffering serious illness.

People will also notice new signage at the Wollundry Lagoon. This is designed to help the community understand the need to keep our ducks and geese safe and healthy by resisting the urge to feed them 'junk food'.

Here’s some information which aims to assist community members.

Should I feed geese and ducks?

Heading down to the park or lagoon to feed the ducks and geese with the kids is anyone’s idea of a fun outing and activity. It’s enjoyable and one way to interact with the wildlife.

But take a minute to consider the harm this may cause to the birds.

Feeding food to the birds, which may seem harmless enough to us humans, can do a lot of damage and make the geese and ducks very sick.

Food meant for human consumption – such as slices of bread and rolls, bacon and eggs - can lead to nutritional imbalances.

This increases the risk of disease and leads to altered animal behaviour. This behaviour is often aggressive and can result in humans being attacked or pecked.

The following information outlines some of the reasons why feeding geese and ducks food is not recommended:

A leftover packet of stale bread is often a favourite choice for feeding geese and ducks.

Bread is like fast food for geese and ducks. It contains lots of carbohydrates and has little nutritional value, and can make them very sick.

These birds are small compared to humans, so even the smallest amount of bread can be unhealthy for them.

Please think twice before tearing up that half-loaf of stale bread and tossing it to the birds.

Bread that is leisurely tossed to the birds but remains uneaten will then sink in the water.

While it may have disappeared from sight, the bread is doing its own damage to the ecosystem below.

The soggy bread beneath the water’s surface is now causing nutrient pollution, which in turn leads to an increase in the soil bacteria that causes avian botulism.

When water levels are low, the bacteria is concentrated, which causes infection in the geese and ducks as they forage for food. Waterfowl with botulism are unable to eat, become distressed and paralysed and will drown in the water or die on the bank.

Please help us stop the spread of disease in our local waterways where ducks and geese live.

There is evidence to support hand-feeding of waterfowl causes the geese and ducks to become dependent on humans for food or abnormally increase the local population density.

There have been reports of aggressive behaviour by the birds demanding food, and also putting young children feeders at risk.

The birds also venture beyond their natural habitat in search of food, and this has caused traffic incidents which has resulted in injuries to the geese.

Feeding the geese and ducks is not recommended

After reading about disease in birds, aggressive changes in behaviour and disruptions in their natural habitat … you may still may want to feed the birds.

So what should you do if you can't resist the urge to feed the ducks and geese?

Please avoid the bread, crackers, chips and the bacon and egg roll leftovers. Chop up some leafy greens such as kale and lettuce.

Ducks and geese also eat a lot of insects, so feeding them mealworms or freeze-dried crickets mimics their natural food choices.

Offer very small portions of food. And stop feeding the birds if they are no longer eating.

Here are some more wildlife facts and tips from our good friends and experts at WIRES

WIRES does not recommend feeding any native birds or birds living in the wild for the following reasons:

  • Most birds eat a balanced diet; 90% eat insects and nectar, seed or fruit. People feeding birds the wrong food changes the balance of their diet and can negatively impact their health.
  • Feeding birds can increase aggression and stress as many try to feed together, this wouldn’t happen naturally.
  • Feeding can increase the quantity of non-native birds, non-native rats and cockroaches, as the more food they get, the more they breed.
  • Artificial feeding can change the balance of species in the wild as it can increase some species, which in turn, decreases others. The Rainbow lorikeet for example has taken great advantage of the artificial feeding and has all but eliminated the shy Scaly Breasted lorikeet from some urban areas.
  • Feeding can spread disease through a concentration of food and birds in large numbers in one place.
  • Bird seed left out in damp conditions rots, grows mould and introduces disease to the birds, and can attract rats and mice.
  • Feeding encourages birds to become dependent on humans for their survival. They can lose the ability to find food for themselves, this is particularly so if they are juveniles who should be learning to find their natural food.
  • It can cause sickness and deformities in young as high quantities of salt are present in bread and processed foods.
  • Feeding can make them overweight and high quantities of fat are present in processed food and meat. Raw meat is lacking in calcium and has high levels of phosphorous which contribute to dietary imbalance and severe deficiencies.
  • Artificial feeding is not necessary. Native birds do not need extra food as they are well adapted to their environment and will be much healthier and happier overall if left to eat only their normal diet.