I had an interesting walk this morning. I noticed a guy standing by the river with a huge bag of breadcrumbs feeding the local birds. It was quite a spectacle. He was doing it with gusto…Pavarotti style! There were swans, ducks, geese, and gulls everywhere. I was aware of the urge to educate him that apparently bread is not the best thing to feed birds (it ain’t what it used to be and some would say it’s not the best thing to feed humans either). However, I couldn’t get near him in the frenzy of flapping and I was also aware of my default pattern arising which wants to avoid any chance of confrontation at all costs. Awareness brings the opportunity to create oneSelf a new but I carried on with my walk anyway and thought he might still be there on the way back.
He wasn’t, but there was another guy with a bag of bread feeding some swans and ducks, and much to my own surprise and before I even knew what was happening, these words came out of my mouth, “I wonder are you aware that apparently bread isn’t the best thing to feed birds?”.
The man said yes he was actually, but he was still doing it anyway as he’d heard Swans were dying of a lack of food, so, “What does one do?” Again before I could even think about it, the words came out of my mouth., “Well maybe you could feed them food that’s good for them like leftover greens and birdseed instead?”
He looked rather confused, you know, that moment (we’ve all been there) where Wisdom is heard but doesn’t quite align with the ego’s do-gooding intentions, and his eyes glazed over. At this point, and it was interesting to observe that even though I was very gentle in my engagement, his ego appeared to feel attacked and proceeded to defend his do-goodness and tell me that people were killing the Swans and it was awful, and he was trying to save them.
I resisted the urge to say, “Yes and some people like you are killing them very slowly with bread!” because in his defensiveness he had stopped listening and I could feel my own temptation to move out of observation into judgement. This seemed like the right time to make an exit. I bid the man good day and thought I’d take this opportunity to raise awareness of alternative bird foods to bread.
Maybe at some point, as a result of our conversation he’ll consider feeding the birds healthier things or maybe he won’t. To be honest, as humans we appear generally, to not care about what we put into our own bodies, let alone worrying about a duck. In fact most of us care more about a duck, or our dogs and cats, than we do about our own bodies. We wouldn’t give our pets half the crap that we stuff in our own mouths (that’s another blog right there!).
The seed however was planted and I’m glad I had the opportunity to be a messenger and offer an alternative. The only trouble is, like the Swans the man was telling me about, people often shoot the messenger! Which is why many of us, when Wisdom presents herself and sensible choices appear, we choose not to speak up or pretend we didn’t hear.
Swans are considered symbols of Wisdom and Grace. White doves are considered symbols of Peace and our own Holy/Divine/Sacred Spirit. How often do we compromise our Peace by not listening to our inner Wisdom and in doing so inadvertently shoot the messenger? Wisdom itself however, never dies. She lives in us, waiting for us to realise that shooting her is absolutely, completely and utterly pointless. She’s not going anywhere. She has Eternity on her side.
Haha! Ducks to Divinity! Anyway, back to the welfare of our birds. This list is the advice for feeding ducks at www.thespruce.com :
The best foods for ducks are those that provide the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins the birds need for healthy growth and development. Many of these foods are similar to the natural insects, mollusks, seeds, grains, and plants the birds will forage for on their own. As omnivorous birds, ducks will eat many different foods, and the best foods to offer ducks include:
- Cracked corn
- Wheat, barley, or similar grains
- Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick)
- Rice (cooked or uncooked)
- Milo seed
- Birdseed (any type or mix)
- Grapes (cut in half or quartered if very large)
- Nut hearts or pieces (any type but without salt, coatings, or flavoring)
- Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
- Earthworms (fishing bait or dug from the garden)
- Mealworms (fresh or dried)
- Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes (some other sites say not spinach though?)
- Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped into small pieces)
Duck feed pellets or poultry starter pellets are another great option, and they can be purchased from farming or agricultural supply stores.
This is a fun article and taste test from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/shortcuts/2016/mar/15/bread-off-the-menu-so-what-feed-the-ducks-now-taste-test
It appears sunflower seeds are a winner and suit most river birds tastes!
If you’ve read this far, thank you for caring about Nature, this planet and all the lovely creatures that co-exist upon her. Remember you are also a part of the equation.