PLEASE Don’t Feed Bread to Waterfowl

What is ‘angel wing’?

Canada goose with Angel wing. Photo: Ross Michaels

Canada goose with Angel wing. Photo: Ross Michaels

This condition is a wing deformity, also referred to as slipped wing. It is commonly found in ducks, geese and swans where the last joint of the wing is twisted outward. The leading cause of Angel wing is high concentrations of protein in the diets of growing waterfowl. The highest incidences of Angel wing in waterfowl occur at parks where the public feeds these waterbirds bread, which not part of a proper diet for them.

CLICK to read more about this condition and to learn about good alternatives if you feel you absolutely must feed waterfowl.


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  1. Tyrone Howser March 31, 2015 9:51 pm

    Ducks and others I care about. Canadian geese? Forget about it. They have completely overrun parts of this country. They arrive every spring to poop all over our yard and our school fields. My kids can’t even play in their own yard because of all the poop. Some local ponds are completely ruined with fecal bacteria because of their incessant pooping. I have to resort to using fireworks to get them off our property so we can just walk around. Why do you all worry so much about Canadian geese!? Makes no sense.

    • Callie April 3, 2015 2:00 pm

      They’re still animals and don’t deserve to be subjected to things like this. You could say the same things about humans overrunning the world! We’re just as much of a nuisance to them as they are to us.

  2. Diane March 31, 2015 6:20 pm

    If you read the link, it indicates that diets high in protein OR carbohydrates can cause this – i.e. something not properly balanced.
    I never knew about this.


  3. Greg March 30, 2015 1:12 pm

    Boy, I just don’t know if I believe this. I was feeding bread to the ducks in Shelby Park in Nashville in the early ’50’s, and then took my kids there in the ’80’s, and now doing the same with friends grandkids. I’ve never seen a duck with this condition there, and these ducks are fed bread by people ALL the time. How sure are they that bread and this condition are linked?

    • Gooselover April 3, 2015 2:04 pm

      It’s prevalent in nesting females when their bodies are stressed. Either way bread is not a natural food source, so whether we see this symptom or not, it’s like feeding them a chocolate bar. It increases fat and weight and if significant enough it could potentially prevent them from migrating.

  4. Danielle Castle March 30, 2015 12:54 pm

    Does this also include birds like sparrows and cardinals etc?

    • Heather Ray March 30, 2015 7:39 pm

      If it’s something birds would not typically have as part of their natural diet, it’s not good for them.

    • josnn vanderhoff April 3, 2015 7:53 pm

      Danielle, they only mention water fowl. Sparrows and neighborhood type birds are not water fowl.

      • Danielle Castle April 5, 2015 10:20 pm

        Thank you so much for answering my question. We through stale bread in our front yard. I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t hurting them.

  5. Bea orendorff March 30, 2015 7:27 am

    This post doesn’t make clear how this happens. Here is how: These sources of high energy, unlimited feed, make young waterfowl grow unnaturally fast and their wing weight outgrows the strength of the wing to support it.

  6. Christina March 29, 2015 6:01 pm

    I realize Angel wing is a problem, and I know waterfowl shouldn’t consume bread, but how are the two connected? Bread is a carbohydrate not a protein, and while it is unhealthy I do not think it contributes to angel wing, I may be wrong, as I am just learning about waterfowl, but I was under the impression that the bread contributed more to becoming overweight.

    • Andre March 30, 2015 3:29 pm

      Christina – while bread isn’t considered a “protein”, it does have protein in it. Much more than what waterfowl would normally consume. Most of the bread I eat has between 7 and 10g of protein per slice, which is pretty significant!

  7. CrinksMom March 29, 2015 2:53 pm

    Thanks, Heather. I had suspected it was not proper food, but am grateful for having seen this article. Now when I (gently) suggest that bread is not appropriate for birds, I have a reference. And a suggestion as to what would be a nutritious alternative.

    • Heather Ray March 30, 2015 6:17 am

      IF people must feed them, frozen peas or corn is a good alternative.

  8. Mindy March 29, 2015 2:26 pm

    Wow! Did not know all of this! Thank you for posting….sharing on FB

  9. Robin Follette March 29, 2015 2:03 pm

    Thank you for showing a great photo. It’s a great example of how severely this can affect birds. We’ve seen it in wild geese that aren’t fed by people. Feeding them can make a problem worse.

  10. ffmn March 29, 2015 1:11 pm

    Sunday: I sent this on to many of my e-mail contacts. I learned about this condition, initially, from the Wildlife Center of Va., and treating and teaching ‘hospital’ for wildlife native to Virginia. Thanks for alerting this at this point of time, Spring. !! (Sorta in my part of the country, upper midwest.)

  11. Susan March 29, 2015 11:09 am

    Thank You, Thank You – for publishing this information!! I had NO idea that bread was so harmful. I’ve been a bird lover all of my life and never read this fact!

    Maybe signs should be posted in parks with brief information, followed by a website to visit with more details.

    I’m sure that many people just don’t know the facts like I didn’t. Why is this fact kept so quiet!! Does that also pertain all birds – robins, sparrows, etc. ??

  12. Maggie Turk March 29, 2015 9:57 am

    That is a good tip—-hope the proper people read and heed this warning. Looks like a pretty painful problem for the animals that have it.


  13. Lisa March 29, 2015 9:56 am

    Does this apply to gulls as well?

    • Andre March 30, 2015 3:31 pm

      Not for the same reasons (gulls eat a bit more protein) but bread still isn’t ideal for them..