A council has warned that birds are in danger of becoming “sitting ducks” for hungry foxes – because their doughy diet is stopping them from flying to safety.
Animal lovers have been chucking bread, chips and even prawn crackers for ducks and geese at the Barmoor Lane duck pond in Scalby.
But the starchy bait has left the majority of Scalby’s feathered flock with a condition called angel wings – which ultimately leaves them grounded.
Now there are calls to bin the bread, and instead start trying to feed them their five-a-day.
“People have nothing but good intentions when they feed them, but they are being fed the wrong food,” said Jools Morley, Scalby and Newby Parish Council clerk.
“It will be hard to change habits, like parents getting their children to eat their greens.”
But veg, albeit chopped up, along with mealworms, wheat and even sliced grapes is considered a “much better” diet for the animals.
And unlike the traditional carb-heavy pond staples, they all crucially contain vitamin E which prevents angel wings, which turns one or both of the bird’s wings outwards.
So far, five of the pond’s birds have the ailment, which leave them grounded, and at risk of either starving to death or being eaten by predators.
Grahame Madge, of the RSPB, added: “Feeding ducks on park ponds – or geese and swans on rivers – has become a long-established favourite pastime for many people, especially parents with young children.
“It is an excellent way for the public to have contact with birdlife and for toddlers to learn to appreciate ducks, geese and swans later in life.
“But feeding bread – or we’ve often seen chips – to birds can lead to them developing health problems.
“We don’t want to stop people from feeding them but they should consider buying properly balanced food which is available from pet shops or from vets.”