Even when the subject is birds.
Regular readers know that in winter I sometimes photograph birds at two ponds near my home. Those ponds are owned by Murray City and administered by Murray Parks and Recreation Department and both are often crowded with ducks and geese.
Folks with good intentions often feed bread to waterfowl at urban ponds like these all over the world and they’re generally unaware that doing so can cause serious health problems for the birds and environmental degradation to the ponds. I won’t elaborate on those problems here but more information can be found at BBC News if you’re interested.
This is the small pond at Winchester Park where a prominent and strategically placed sign warns visitors of the dangers of feeding bread to ducks. I spend a lot of time here and I rarely see anyone feeding bread to the ducks (though it does occasionally happen).
Most folks wouldn’t even consider deliberately harming birds.
This is the much larger fishing pond at Willow Pond Park where there are often several thousand ducks and geese. The amount of bread fed to the ducks at this pond by well-intentioned humans simply boggles the mind. Some folks stop at the pond almost daily with their cars loaded to the gills with old bread and hamburger buns (I suspect they have a supermarket source for expired bread). At times they have both their trunks and back doors open and I can see into back seats and trunks packed full of bread products which they proceed to fling at the birds, sometimes in entire loaves.
Most have far less bread with them when they arrive but there are many of them throughout the day – especially after school gets out and parents bring their young children down to feed the ducks.
I noticed that there were no signs at Willow Pond warning of the dangers of feeding the birds (despite the fact that both parks are administered by Murray City and the two ponds are only about a mile apart) so about two weeks ago I visited Murray City Parks and Recreation Department to inquire about the sign inconsistency between the two ponds and suggest that similar signs be placed at Willow Pond. Based on previous frustrating experiences dealing with bureaucratic entities I fully expected to be spitting into the wind but I had to try.
Surprisingly the supervisor I spoke with was very receptive of my suggestion. Once I pointed out the potential harm to birds and water quality of the ponds and the inconsistency of having warning signs at one pond and no signs at the other he actually seemed enthusiastic about the possibility of placing new signs at Willow Pond. He told me I’d be receiving a phone call later that day from the supervisor directly responsible for those ponds to discuss the matter.
But when I never received the call I figured I’d probably run into yet another bureaucratic roadblock and nothing would be done. At first I considered visiting their offices again but in the end I decided to give them some time and see what happened.
I’m glad I waited.
Two days ago I spotted this brand new sign at the Willow Pond fish cleaning station (the pond is out of frame to the left).
A second sign is now strategically placed directly in front of the pond and…
there’s a third sign in front of the pavilion (the pond is to our right).
In multiple visits to Willow Pond since the new signs have been placed I’ve yet to notice anyone feeding the ducks. I’m not so naïve as to think the signs will solve the problem entirely but I fully expect them to have a significant positive impact.
I found it so refreshing to deal with a city bureaucracy that really cares about doing the right thing – in this case for the birds, for the environment and for the citizens of Murray. Kudos to Murray City Parks and Recreation specifically and by extension to Murray City for employing folks who really care about the impacts of what they do.
I’m proud to live in Murray.