Ornithologist Pleads: Don't Give Birds Bread - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Ornithologist Pleads: Don’t Give Birds Bread

Published June 20, 2016

Photos by
Natsha Nandabhiwat

One man is looking out for the human-driven dietary supplements of Iceland’s bird population.

As summer is here and people enjoy being able to comfortably enjoy the outdoors, one Reykjavík pasttime this season includes feeding the ducks, geese and swans down at Tjörnin Pond and elsewhere. Ornithologist Ólaf Einarsson told Stöð 2 people should be mindful of what they feed these birds, and all birds in general.

Ólaf points out that feeding bread to aquatic birds has consequences. First, it attracts seagulls, who have also been known to prey on ducklings and goslings. Second, bread is not especially healthy for these animals. He recommends instead that people feed these birds seeds and grains, which are much closer to their actual diet.

Bread also causes these birds to defecate a lot more, which brings with it its own crop of potential disease threats, such as aspergillosis. This disease, often fatal, can wipe out whole populations of ducks.

If you do want to feed birds you find, whether at Tjörnin or at any of Iceland’s many ponds, lakes and streams, please be mindful of what you feed them.

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