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Don't Feed Bread to Swans in Sean Walsh Park

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Many of the visitors to Sean Walsh Park  bring bread to feed the ducks and swans. As well-intentioned as these people are, they are also very misguided. The simple fact is that FEEDING BREAD TO DUCKS AND SWANS IS REALLY BAD FOR THEM. White bread in particular has no real nutritional value, so while birds may find it tasty, the danger is that they will fill up on it instead of other more natural foods that could be more beneficial to them. Also mouldy bread is very harmful to birds plumage.

Mallard ducks in Sean Walsh Park

Bread is essentially just junk food. It fills birds up, but it provides almost no nutritional value. That means that young  birds are more likely to end up malnourished, without the plant nutrients that they need to grow properly. A high-calorie, low-nutrient diet can cause waterfowl to develop a condition known as "angel wing", an incurable wing deformity that usually renders birds flightless - an ultimate death sentence. The constant availability of human-supplied junk food keeps ducklings and cygnets from learning how to forage for healthy food for themselves. Adult birds that fill up on bread carbs are more likely to get fat and sick. The reality is that for almost the entire year Sean Walsh Park has enough natural food sources to satisfy the needs of the wildlife living in the park. It is only in periods of very low temperatures that the wildfowl could do with some supplementary feeding.

Swan and cygnets in Sean Walsh Park

Another problem is that the bread thatthe birds don't eat is also bad for them. Rotting bread grows mould that makes ducks and swans sick and it can lead to an excessive growth of algae. Algae can contribute to the demise of a lot of pond life. Uneaten bread also attract vermin, such as rats, that spread disease to birds and humans alike, and are a very real threat to ducklings and cygnets. Throwing bread in Sean Walsh Park and it's waterways also attracts gulls and crows that will gladly pick off undefended young waterfowl amidst the confusion that is caused by so many different species drawn to the bread thrown by humans.

What Can I Feed the Ducks in Sean Walsh Park?

A swan and coot in Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght

After that somewhat disappointing news please don't worry. There are plenty of leftovers that you can feed to the wildfowl in the park. It appears that ducks are big into the whole kale trend, however not even swans want anything to do with watercress. Other safe options include peas and corn (canned, frozen, or fresh),  seeds, oats, chopped lettuce, and rice. Aside from bread the only things to avoid at all costs are avocados, onions, citrus, nuts, chocolate, popcorn, carbonated beverages, and alcohol (we don't want our coots getting p****d). So while you shouldn't dump your leftovers into the waterways in the park, there are still plenty of foods that you can pass along to your bird friends.

So that only leaves one question unanswered. What to do with all the stale bread? Well it's a perfect candidate for your brown recycling bin however a better solution would be to test you baking skills by make some delicious bread & butter pudding.

Cygnets in Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght, Dublin 24

If you're the kind of caring person that is interested in the wellbeing of the of the wildlife in Sean Walsh Park then perhaps you might be interested in helping the Tallaght Litter Mugs in their monthly clean-up of the park. We do our best to make sure that the park looks it's best.

It only takes a couple of hours per month and is not physically taxing. We could do with an extra pair of hands so if you're interested in finding out more please email us or follow this link for details of the next Sean Walsh Park clean-up.


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