Thursday, 17 January 2013

Killing with kindness? Angel wing in waterfowl.

Healthy Swan at Bewdley
This morning I was looking through my photos for last year when I came across some I had taken in Bewdley, Worcestershire. It is a small town sitting by the River Severn, with shops and eateries overlooking the water. There are easy walks along the banks and benches provided for resting and just taking in the surroundings. There are plenty of visiting wildfowl to observe and admire.
Close to the town swans, geese and ducks can all be seen at quite close quarters. Children feeding them and jumping with glee reminded me of many a happy visit to a lake or pond as a child.
Duck with Angel wing

Unfortunately, many of us choose to feed them white bread and may be causing them serious harm. If a young bird is overfed or eats an unbalanced diet it can develop a condition known as Angel Wing. This causes the wing to stick out at the wrist joint and means the bird is totally unable to fly.
There are two cause of this:-
           * Overfeeding - the bird grows fat and the joint distorts
           * Malnutrition - most likely a lack of vitamin E, so the bird does not develop properly

The best way to avoid this is to feed them something more akin to their normal diet. Fortunately, there are plenty of things in our kitchen and at pet stores that are great to feed wildfowl.
Seeds such as barley, wheat and cracked maize are ideal. Defrosted frozen peas, lettuce, potato peelings and other chopped vegetables are also good.

The only problem now is what to do with the left over bread? I put mine in my garden wormery, along with lots of other kitchen food waste to be broken down into great compost for the garden. What would you do with yours?
Have you seen any advice on feeding waterfowl that you would like to share?

Look forward to hearing from you :)


  1. I knew there was a reason I only leave wild bird grains on the ground at duck ponds. Who knew there was a reason to not feed birds with white bread. Thank you for letting us know.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment :)