Geese (and other waterfowl)

I live nearby a canal in Manchester and I have noticed that there are a number of people (as expected) feeding bread to the geese and goslings. After seeing a couple feed an ENTIRE loaf of sliced white bread to a group of 8 geese, I would really like to know what I can do to educate and help this problem. I know that it can fill the birds up so they don't eat the stuff that would give them all the nutrients that they need, especially for the goslings whilst they're growing. Does anyone have any idea if I can do something about it? Surely there must be a way to spread the word and show the dangers of feeding carb-heavy foods to birds?

  • Poppy Boronat said:

    I live nearby a canal in Manchester and I have noticed that there are a number of people (as expected) feeding bread to the geese and goslings. After seeing a couple feed an ENTIRE loaf of sliced white bread to a group of 8 geese, I would really like to know what I can do to educate and help this problem. I know that it can fill the birds up so they don't eat the stuff that would give them all the nutrients that they need, especially for the goslings whilst they're growing. Does anyone have any idea if I can do something about it? Surely there must be a way to spread the word and show the dangers of feeding carb-heavy foods to birds?

    A difficult one that.

    People feed bread to birds often out of kindness as well as genuine ignorance, and feel they are doing their bit to help nature. It is a starting point and one that can be built on, but slowly and very gently.

    Probably the best approach would be one I use when I'm visiting reserves, take some proper food with you, let them see what you're doing without being painfully obvious.

    Some may come and ask what you're feeding out of genuine curiosity, and there starts a gentle and friendly education scenario. I'll happily give people a handful of bird food so that they can try to feed the birds.

    If there are children involved, encourage the parents/guardians to take the lead, or at the very least, keep them involved, that then helps to elevate any concerns about grooming (what a sad state of affairs, but you can't be too careful). Very often parents/guardians will take a positive interest and encourage the children under their care (who are more often than not eager to feed the birds) to become involved.

    I often use that approach to attract robins and other species, and when folk show an interest, I'll happily share why in a gentle manner, saying how easy it is to buy bird food and where, with places they will know and can relate to, like Wilkinson's or Wilco as they are now known, Homebase, B&Q just to name a few.

    Of course, if there are reserves nearby like RSPB or Wild Life Trusts with proper visitor centres, you could also mention those places, which would not only list places to buy the food from, but places to visit and see wildlife in a more suitable environment.

    Whatever, be gentle and understanding, don't preach, encourage by giving them a handful of bird food and showing them how you do it without being painfully obvious. That way some will look and learn, those who don't, will ignore you irrespective and more importantly, you're less likely to get a bloody nose.

    One downside, this time of year, the insects are often plentiful, so the smaller birds may not be feeding from the hand quite so prolifically.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler