So, I’d not heard of this until I read about it recently on the Canal and River Trust Boaters Update.

Far from angelic, Angel wing is a disease that sadly affects aquatic birds causing a deformity in both wings so that they cannot fly. C&RT reported that the details were revealed in an interview in the Birmingham Mail. Grahame Madge from the RSPB explained the problem is caused by birds being over-fed with bread. An imbalance of protein and carbohydrates in the diet is passed on to developing birds in the egg, causing the young to then grow up with deformed wings.

So now I’m feeling terrible! More times than I can count over the years I have fed pieces of bread to our local ducks, swans and geese and encouraged my children to do the same. However, it turns out that for birds, bread has little nutritional value, pollutes the waterways and may attract rodents. Different types of mould can also be fatal to waterfowl, according to

Instead we should consider what seeds, grains and plants the birds might naturally forage for. Ducks are omnivores and so could be fed wheat, barley, rice, oats, birdseed, grapes (cut in half), frozen peas or corn, earthworms, mealworms, green salad and vegetable trimmings.

The advice from Birding About is also to stop feeding the birds if they appear uninterested or are leaving food uneaten.

So what will we do with our left over stale bread from now on? Perhaps we could turn it into soup croutons, make stuffing mix, meat loaf or panzanella – an Italian bread salad. Then there’s possibly the most obvious option; make breadcrumbs. Bake the stale bread on a low heat until it’s dry and brittle, then turn it into crumbs with a blender. Add herbs and salt if you like; then freeze the breadcrumbs to use later as a crispy coating for fish or chicken, or sprinkle some onto macaroni cheese. There are lots more ideas on

And now you know what to give the ducks for Christmas!

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