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Best thing since sliced bread? Havering Council says feed ducks lettuce

Ducks filled with nutritious lettuce turn their backs as Cllr Melvin Wallace takes a break from feeding them with (L-R) Elise Franklin, 3, Jo Allan, and Ollie Hollis, 3. Ducks filled with nutritious lettuce turn their backs as Cllr Melvin Wallace takes a break from feeding them with (L-R) Elise Franklin, 3, Jo Allan, and Ollie Hollis, 3.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
4:05 PM

The best thing since sliced bread or just plain quackers? Havering Council is urging residents to feed the birds healthy food such as porridge and lettuce.

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Throughout history stale bread has been the staple fed to our feathered friends but new advice says that greens and oats make a better meal for them.

Recent issues at some of the borough’s green spaces, such as Hornchurch’s Harrow Lodge and Romford’s Raphael parks, have seen wildfowl suffer fatal consequences due to botulism - a disease that affects the nervous system.

Uneaten scraps of mouldy bread can cause the bacteria to flourish killing the birds, according to the council.

Cllr Melvin Wallace, cabinet member for culture, towns and communities, said: “In any one day, up to, or even more than 20 people can come and feed bread to the ducks, and that much bread can’t be good for them.”

Birds need a healthier and more varied diet, the council say, and greens such as lettuce and spinach as well as uncooked rice and porridge oats will do the trick.

The council is encouraging park cafes to start stocking the healthy treats.

London spokesman for the RSPB Tim Webb agreed that white bread is essentially “candyfloss” for ducks, filling up their stomachs with no nutritional value.

Cllr Wallace added: “A lot of people might take bread to feed the ducks because they have some left over, but the same applies with greens and fruits.”

While at Raphael Park, a goose walked by visibly suffering from a syndrome called Angel Wing, which can be caused by a high-calorie diet. Its wing joints were badly twisted.

Pointing to the goose, mother Jo Allan said: “This is what happens when they eat too much bread, it’s really sad, and what kind of life do they have if they can’t fly?”

Read more:

‘Don’t feed the ducks’: Havering bread throwers warned

Warning these pictures might cause distress: Hundreds of birds die in Harrow Lodge Park after ‘worst outbreak of botulism’

Video: Man shows Kermit-ment to capture frogs croaking in Hornchurch park

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