The weather is starting to get better with warmer temps and sunshine, which means folks will be heading to Spring Lake Park for fun, recreation and exercise. Do you like to grab a loaf of bread and head to the park to feed the birds? Don't do it! You could be harming the birds. You can still feed them but follow these guidelines to make sure the health of the birds are kept in check.

This is from wildlife expert Lori Anderson. She has been involved in saving wildlife in our area for many years. I first met Lori in 1999 when I called her about a bat I had found downtown in some sort of drowned state. She nursed him back to health and called me to meet her so I could watch him be released back into the wild. Bert the Bat.

Here are Lori's tips on what to feed our local water fowl:

What Not to Feed:

These are the least nutritious and most unhealthy foods to feed: bread, chips, crackers, popcorn and similar bread-type products and scraps. Do not feed any products that are spoiled or moldy; different types of mold can be fatal to waterfowl.

Good Foods:

  • Cracked corn
  • Wheat, barley or similar grains
  • Oats (uncooked; rolled or quick)
  • Rice (cooked or uncooked)
  • Milo
  • Birdseed (any type or mix)
  • Grapes (cut in half)
  • Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
  • Earthworms
  • Mealworms (fresh or dried)
  • Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
  • Vegetable trimmings or peels (chopped)
  • Duck feed pellets or poultry starter pellets are another great option, and they can be purchased from farming or agricultural supply stores.

Tips for Feeding:

  • Stop feeding if the birds appear uninterested or are leaving the food uneaten, and avoid feeding the birds if other visitors are already offering treats.
  • Only offer foods in bite-sized pieces the birds can easily consume without choking or struggling.
  • Be wary of birds that approach closely and remember that they can still be aggressive, particularly larger waterfowl such as swans and geese.
  • Litter can hurt birds in many ways, so be sure to dispose of all trash properly, including bags, twist ties and unsuitable scraps.
  • Do not allow pets or children to chase or disturb the birds, particularly young birds or families that could become stressed or injured more easily.

You can follow Lori Anderson's wildlife rescue on Facebook under Toby's Tales.