The official-looking signs about feeding ducks and swans that are causing mass confusion in Milton Keynes
Emotive signs urging people to feed bread to 'starving' swans and ducks have caused mass confusion in Milton Keynes.
Nobody knows who is responsible for the official-looking signs, which have been put up near lakes and rivers.
They urge: "Please feed us again, especially in the winter. Everyone has stopped feeding us because they wrongly think bread will make us poorly and now some of us are dying of starvation without your bread.”
And they add: “Yes, it’s not the healthiest for us, but nothing in our bellies will kill us.”
The signs are in direct conflict with the advice from the Parks Trust, whose experts maintain the lakes and parkland in MK.
They say bread is not a good food at all for waterfowl and is even bad for the environment.
The Parks Trust website states: “There has been much debate recently, both locally and nationally, about the pros and cons of feeding waterfowl. Although swans, ducks and geese are designed to feed mainly on aquatic plants and small invertebrates, people like to supplement their food.”
It adds: “Generations of children have enjoyed feeding bread to swans and ducks but we now know this is far from good for them. Bread is a totally unnatural food source for birds and the salts and preservatives in modern bread have been linked to deformities in their bone development. As well as this, uneaten bread is very bad for the environment, causing increased algal growth in lakes and attracting rats."
The Parks Trusts asks people to feed good quality bird seed, tinned sweetcorn or chopped lettuce and vegetables instead of bread.
Members of the public are rightly confused.
“I don't know what to think now," said one parent.
"Ducks and swans have been fed bread for decades. I hate to think of them starving – but I'd hate to cause them problems.”
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) say it is fine to feed small amounts of bread to ducks - but people should also feed them sweetcorn, porridge oats, peas and bird seed.
"Just like us, birds need a varied diet to stay healthy," said a spokesman.
"Although ducks and swans can digest all types of bread, too much can leave them feeling full without giving them all of the important vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need.”