Overfeeding of Grangetown swans causes traffic jams and rat problems

Feeding the swans that live on the Taff in Grangetown may do more harm than good if it’s overdone.

Swans in Grangetown
A pair of swans on the banks of the Taff in Grangetown.

Visitors to Grangetown feeding the local swans may be contributing to the traffic problems they cause and making life worse for the birds.

Grangetown residents often have to wait for wayward swans to cross the road that runs by the river. The birds spend less time than they naturally would in the water because of all the food on the river bank.

Jaqueline Lee lives in Grangetown and passes the swans every morning. “Every time on my way to work they’re constantly crossing over, and I’ve wanted to get in touch with the local council to put a sign up if I’m honest, because it’s stressful.”

Anything that isn’t eaten by the swans or other bids goes to less desirable animals. Pest control officials have attributed the recent spike in the population of rats to the unwanted food.

The RSPB recommends throwing any food for swans and ducks directly into the river to encourage the birds to stay in the water. Food that is thrown in the river is also less likely to be eaten by rats.

It’s not just the residents that are affected, the swans might also be suffering from being fed so much. The time-honoured tradition of feeding ducks bread isn’t healthy for the birds.

According to the Canal River Trust, “Ducks need a varied diet to be healthy, bread doesn’t have much nutritional value and fills ducks up so they don’t forage for foods they would naturally eat, which can lead to malnutrition.”

Swan fed on orange
A swan investigates half an orange that has been left for it on the bank.

While there are problems associated with feeding the swans it’s inevitable that people will continue to do so. A responsible way to feed the swans would be to:

  • Throw the food into the river to stop the swans coming onto the banks and to stop feeding the rats by accident.
  • Don’t give them bread, more nutritious options include sweetcorn, oats or rice.