Please don’t feed the birds!

I should clarify, as a paid up member of the RSPB I am not against feeding birds and have several feeders in my garden. What I’m talking about is leaving bread in the park “for the birds.”

I have two dogs and regularly walk them in various greenspaces across South Leeds. Although Cross Flatts Park is my nearest I now try to avoid it. My dogs are well trained with good recall and I like to let them off the lead so they can run around and get the exercise they need.

Unfortunately, that means that sooner or later they will find some human food. Dogs are scavengers by nature so it’s not their fault that they search it out and scoff it down before I can intervene.

My dogs have found all sorts in Cross Flatts Park and it seems to be getting worse. Children dropping sweets and ice cream is understandable. Loaves of sliced bread and piles of chapatis are not uncommon, even breakfast cereal. A couple of months ago, in a possible sign that Beeston is going up in the world I came across a pile of croissants! Bones, presumably left over from a barbecue, half eaten fish, chips and burgers – this is just littering – please use one of the many bins in the park.

Breakfast cerial left in Cross Flatts Park recently

I once challenged a guy who had just thrown half his burger out of his car window, over the fence into the park. I don’t like to be too confrontational so I opened with “Excuse me, I think you’ve dropped something …” His reply was, you’ve guessed it, he was leaving it for the birds.

But it’s the bread and chapatis that I want to concentrate on. Much of this is deliberately put out “for the birds” – so with good intentions. But birds don’t need bread, especially the highly processed white sliced variety, in fact it stops them getting the food they need.

The bread fills their stomachs but doesn’t give them the nutrition they need. Birds should be eating seeds, bugs and worms.

So who does eat the bread that gets put out? My money is on dogs, I know, I see it happening. Dog owners spend a lot of money on dog food to ensure their pets are getting a balanced and nutritional diet. We don’t want that topped up with stale bread or last night’s fish supper thank you. OK, it probably won’t cause actual harm to the animal, but it won’t do them any good.

Then there are the rats. We all know there is a problem in rats in the area, like most inner cities. Rats carry and spread diseases so are a health hazard. If you want to encourage rats, carry on leaving food out for them, personally I would prefer to see fewer rats in South Leeds.

So, if you do want to feed the birds – and we all should, many once common species are under threat and need all the help they can get – please buy them proper bird food. Scattering it on the ground is OK, but hanging it in a proper bird feeder is even better. That will ensure the right creatures are getting it and that you are actually … feeding the birds.


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40 Replies to “Please don’t feed the birds!”

  1. I agree birds shouldn’t be given bread it’s no good for them and if it rains it just becomes a sodden mess , but people think it’s okay to put it out for them but why they think this I’ve no idea

      1. Agree and the Queen’s swan marker ” presume he’s now the kings swan marker” David Barber also agrees, I can understand people getting upset when bread is left to rot but the birds we feed, eat it immediately. It just needs to be left in the right place.

      2. Exactly! Chris packham also encouraged it, as they were starving with the harsh weather.

    1. We think that cos they like it. I’ve put bread , left over dinner,nuts and bird seed out my garden for over 40 yrs, the crows dip the bread into water before they eat it. I get all sorts of birds in garden. I recognise a lot, from the crows, pigeons, robins etc.

    2. I feed the birds in bird hangers in my garden never give them bread i too am fed up with people just throwing scraps for the birds in public places my dog gets them before i can sto her and she suffers from pancreatitis and this could make her ill.

    1. Sorry but they do and they will attack. My neighbours little boy was attacked by a rat on his way to school and needed tetanus shor as a prevention.

    2. Try reading some well written books that tell you what food to put out for different animals and birds.

    3. Rats do carry and spread diseases you wouldn’t say sod off if you caught veils disease and become really ill

    4. Are you for real of corse they spread disease and even if they didn’t who wants them running around when you think of where they go down the sewers and in woods what do you think they spread .

  2. Rare acts of human beings sharing with other creatures. Nice consideration, wildlife needs all the help it can find. However, mouldy bread is toxic to dogs and therefore perhaps foxes. I’d certainly have my dogs on leads if I couldn’t see what they were truffling. A little consideration to all would be helpful here. We are not a very enligtened species. There are consequences to everything we do, so consider apples if you want to put food on the ground and put bread higher up or under thick bushes. It gives me great joy when I see small heeps of bird seed placed on posts and fences in parklands, people care, but not everyone can afford bird seed. The parks are for everyone and I hope the wildlife too. Tolerance and consideration go a long way in making a happier world for all….rats included!!!

    1. We where told not to feed ducks and swans bread and they started to starve to death they had to go back on that one

  3. FACT:- rats DO spread disease
    FACT:- bread and human food generally is NOT good for birds
    FACT:- dogs need more than just leashed walking exercise and as long as they are well trained and under the supervisionof responsible owners, they should be allowed to run around.

  4. We humans are the vermin on this earth who contaminating it and destroying it,leave the animals alone,they are the ones who will still be be here after the human race as destroyed it’s self

  5. The moral of this story is “keep your dogs on a lead” if you cannot stop them eating food left overs. My do is also well trained with good recall AND I trained her NEVER to pick up food left on the floor either in my house OR when we are out on a walk. Your dogs should NOT be allowed off lead. Anything can happen to them. They can be attacked by other dogs, if they stray far enough that you can’t get to them before they eat left overs, they can also be picked up and stolen.

    1. You are so right and where I live people have been putting poison down for them to eat some dog owners have lost their dogs because of this , because certain people in the community don’t like dogs and are afraid of them even small ones .

  6. Food is not litter tho anything degradable is good for nature it will turn to compst in no time mun .: A good dog will no not to eat bad food . A gun dog will pick up birds a not eat them so train the dog a bit more no ?

  7. Leaving rubbish is one thing, feeding birds, even with bread to me is acceptable, even the RSPB said bread is better than nothing, and what about people that forage, they are taking birds or animals food is this right?


  9. Who are you to order people not to feed birds bread or anything else? rightly or wrongly it’s a free country and everyone has freedom of get stuffed you stuffy old nothing better on your mind than this?in cold weather birds are glad of whatever they can get to eat even if it isn’t nutritionally good,still fills them up temporarily. I feed birds anywhere and everywhere with all kinds of food including potatoes and bird foods bought especially.

  10. Bread when left in the right place will be eaten long before it goes mouldy. White or brown, birds swans ducks and geese enjoy eating it and it is a life saver in the mid winter. All wildlife needs a hand up in the winter and I include rats. I doubt that the writer has ever lost a dog to mouldy food. Even dogs are not that stupid and mould is natures way of recycling.
    Its nice if people can afford expensive bird food, but end of life bread is an acceptable substitute to a hunger swan

  11. He Wright u should not feed birds or seagulls thy cause lots of damage if u Di feed them plus u will be breaking the law as u are not allowed to feed them at seaside places or towns

  12. Well said James.people say bread not good for them, but chocolate and crisps are not good for us.(but we still eat it)

  13. According to their web page it’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing especially in winter. While I understand your comments your article is far from factual regarding the birds. As for rats they are everywhere you don’t normally see them because they are nocturnal whether there’s bread put out or not I guarantee that there are rats about in your local park. I completely agree about the dogs it’s one of my all time hates when we have the dogs out but that’s the point to educate people on not feeding the birds and yes I’m aware some people are just beyond lazy and again I agree whole heartedly with you comments regarding this.

  14. Theres nothing wrong in feeding them but your are in a public park and your dogs should not be running around they should be on a lead were I live there are signs up telling people that there dogs must be on a lead they take no notice off it and there’ dogs poo and they dont know there done it this is more harmful to children that are playing

  15. Also, you should not feed birds such as blue tits or great tits if you are in an area that also has marsh or willow tits. By doing this you are helping the blue and great tits outcompete the marsh and willow tits, contributing to their decline. They are already extinct in areas of southern England despite having some suitable habitat left.

  16. I Know there well as I used to live in Harehills. I live Birmingham now in a Block of Flats & My last Dog was a Westie before Who after been Swung around by a Staffie One Afternoon in the Park on His Extendable Lead & a Year later was Murdered by a Pitbull
    again on His same Lead at 6 Years old Both Owners/Blokes insisted that Their Dogs are well Trained. All Dogs Have a Mind of Their own & will be disobedient at Some Point so hence why I keep My Bichon frise on a Lead 10 Meters long but We have lots of Dogs Where the Owner is in the Distance & Their big Dog comes running at Us & I Shout to them Get Your Dog on the Lead I have poor balance & If theres a Fight Mine will lose. Also some People including Children are either Scared or Nervous of Dogs.

  17. I think the best way is to train dogs to don’t take any food outside and everyone will be happy

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