Children love to feed bread and crackers to waterfowl. They do not know the harm created from adding these ingredients to the diet of ducks and geese.
Poor diet results in a disease known as "Angel Wing" (slipped wing). The last joint of the wing twists causing wing feathers to point out instead of resting against the body. Males develop it more than females.
Because of uneducated human kindness, both wrist joints become retarded in their development. When the wing twists outward, it cannot perform its usual function. In extreme cases, the stripped feathers resemble blue straw protruding from wings. Incurable in adult birds, the disease leads to an early death.
Birds rendered flightless cannot migrate with their flocks. They cannot even fly to protect themselves from predators. In young birds wrapping the wing and binding it against the bird's flank, together with feeding the bird a natural diet, might reverse the damage.
Only wild populations fed by man suffer this disability.We need to educate adults and children that all wildlife suffers from unnatural feeding practices. Most animals forage to provide for themselves and will do just fine without additives.
If you must feed, at least pick grass or bring lettuce. Cameras and polite observation at parks become the best ways to interact and learn about wildlife.The Canada geese often let children mingle with their young. If someone gets too close, the mother will hiss and extend her neck. Watch out for bitten fingers.
Plea for Wildlife: Please make copies of this page. If you notice people feeding waterfowl, please share this information. Ask that they pass it on.