“Don’t feed the ducks” in the world of industrialism

By Aerials | Freedom Path | 23 Mar 2020

I don’t normally feed wild birds tons of white bread - or any kind of bread for that matter. First of all, I know that it’s not healthy for them; second, I am not rich or crazy enough to buy tons of bread with the purpose of feeding ducks and geese till they die from liver failure, cancer, heart attacks, or whatever else they may get from eating nasty human trash food. 

That said, I never comment on other people going to city parks with big bags of crap and feeding the creatures. Yes, it’s bad. Yes, the birds may suffer. Who knows, maybe these city birds who have been hanging at city lakes and streams for many generations have already adjusted to the point where they are simply o.k. with eating crap... Just like millions of people seem to be just fine eating genetically modified veggies, McDonalds, and snacks stuffed with artificial colors and preservatives.

I don’t know. I don’t give too much thought to it. I am neither an ornithologist (or even a general biologist), nor a human rights or birds’ rights activist. I may dislike seeing people throw POUNDS of human food to the ducks and seagulls, but I won’t keep watch by the lake every day to approach and curse every single bird-feeding family. Especially if they randomly throw only a couple of pieces to the birds. 

Some people will say, “But if everyone throws only a couple of pieces, it will add up, and the birds will still suffer!” Yes, makes sense. But come on, guys... How many people will come to every single water spot in town to feed them day after day? A dozen? A hundred? A million? I've seen people do this for years in different cities around the world, and the pattern is pretty much the same. A few people come every day when the weather is fine. Pretty much no one comes when the weather is cold. The ducks eat bread, children run around, life goes on. Huge wild duck and geese populations live in the world, and they are in no way affected by city folks feeding city ducks who hang out in city parks, end of story. 

If you are so concerned about the livelihood of city ducks, put up signs, do educational brochures stating that ducks will die from nasty human bread, educate your own kids, they will pass it on. But no matter what you do, there will always be a few families which come to parks and feed birds. I believe the best solution would be to implement bird food dispensers by every lake or stream. People would come and buy a bit of duck food for a couple of coins, birds would eat something that's healthy for them, and children would be happy to have hands on experience with nature. 

Good idea? I think, yes. And I think that this idea should be implemented by those who are most concerned with well-being of the city birds; especially all those serious folks that give nasty grave looks to my 7-year-old when I let her feed these birds just a tiny bit of damn bread. 

There is a beautiful nature preserve right in the midst of a rather busy city area in Los Angeles County. There is a huge park with wild roses, berries, and vast fields of wildflowers and bushes with hundreds of rabbits, ground squirrels, and other animals. A small stream in the middle is home to herons and crayfish, and a nice lake is a breeding spot for numerous types of water birds, from pelicans to ducks. It also has turtles and huge fish. Obviously, no fishing is allowed. 

We sometimes walk around there, look at insect and animal life, watch the fish play in the water. And yes, once in a while we throw some breadcrumbs to the fish or the ducks. Not a whole pound of it, just some pieces. And once in a while there appears a person (usually an older lady) who approaches us and looks sternly at my child, as if she has caught us committing a deadly sin for which we will burn in hell. The one that saw us yesterday actually spoke to my daughter (not to me) and made her cry. I was tempted to make a big scene, but that would be pointless. 

I know what I will do next time. I will go to the pet store and purchase a huge container of food that is suitable for pond fish, turtles, and yes, the BIRDS. And when another person by the lake approaches me watchfully, as if duck health is the only thing left for them to worry about, all the nasty comments will be met with display of the proper duck food. If you are so concerned with animals staying healthy, dear people - go and put up those bird food dispensers right by the lakes; I guarantee it will help. This way you'll actually do something more PRACTICAL than making 5-year-old children cry. 

Another thing is - if you feel sorry for the city ducks, why have you built the city in the first place? You'll say I'm going too far and using an invalid argument, and I am aware of all those logical fallacies that exist in our heads and that we constantly fall victim to. However, many things that partial  nature advocates do seem rather double-faced to me.

You live in a big city. You use a car that runs on gas. Roads that were built for your comfort have destroyed much of the natural world that used to exist here. Your banks, restaurants, shopping malls, and houses stand where once were tall grasses, water streams, trees. You use electricity. You drink store-bought juice and milk. You wear clothes that are made in factories which continuously destroy nature. You use Internet. You depend on sewage systems which take care of your shit and chemical loads of laundry detergent, and I bet you looove that hot water delivered to your homes through pipes which interfere with natural processes in the soil. You walk on asphalt and concrete. 

There are so many things you could protest against! Stop using all the comforts of your city life. Stop driving your car. Get rid of your smartphone. Change concrete back to grass and flowers. Forget about satellites and 5G towers which give you the chance to browse faster.

Then and ONLY THEN come to my child and blame her for giving breadcrumbs to city pond-fish. But no, not even then - you are not her parent. Come to me.  

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My name is Araksa. I am a freelance writer and a martial artist.

Freedom Path
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