The Park

To Feed or Not to Feed Green Lake’s Birds

September 13, 2014 6:05am


Walk the lake and you’ll see them. People with out stretched arms cupping food to feed the birds. You’ll also see the signs “do not feed the water fowl.”

So what gives?

We asked our friend and naturalist Martin Muller, to weigh in, here’s what he said:

Do Green Lake birds need more food? 

“Green Lake is chock full of natural food for waterfowl. No need to provide extra, except during those brief periods when the lake freezes over.
Stale (or worse: moldy) bread is not good for the birds’ health. Also, it adds nutrients to the lake that help fuel plant/algae growth.”
What’s up with the people on the west side of the lake who feed birds out of their hands? 
“A totally different aspect, strictly speaking not covered by the prohibition on feeding waterfowl, are the trained Red-winged Blackbirds along Aurora Avenue (the cattails are their natural habitat). Some people come by and whistle and hold out a hand full of millet or other seed. The birds will land on their hands to eat. As long as people don’t throw the food on the ground (where it artificially increases the rat population and rats are also predators of eggs and young birds), I personally don’t have a huge problem with it. But opinions vary and one can get into a very heated discussion about this in a hurry.”

What do you think? Do you feed the birds and if so why?