PARK rangers have been ordered to confiscate white bread from anyone feeding the birds in Holyrood Park after claims it is harming the Queen’s swans.
Wardens at the park say the age-old tradition can give the birds arthritis, cause birth defects and even starve them.
Baffled visitors are being handed a replacement snack of bird seed by staff from Historic Scotland, who run the park, to throw to the swans at St Margaret’s Loch.
Matt McCade, Holyrood Park ranger, said: “White bread doesn’t have any nutritional value. It can cause arthritis and birth defects.
“It will also fill ducks and swans up, stopping them from feeling hungry, which can lead to them dying of starvation.
“I carry a bag of seeds with me and swap it for the white bread. It helps to encourage young families to feed the ducks and swans properly.”
Signs have been erected and visitors are also being discouraged from giving the birds treats such as “crisps, chips, rice and curry”.
But the move has been branded “ridiculous” by members of the public.
Maxine Reynolds, 21, said: “It seems a bit much. The ducks and swans are obviously fine with it. People have been feeding them white bread for years and nothing has happened so why should it now?”
Bird feeder Jayme Jamieson, 20, said: “It’s one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard.”
The nation’s leading bird charity, RSPB Scotland, also said the crackdown was unnecessary as all bread was fine within reason.
A spokesman said: “As far as the RSPB is concerned, all types of bread are acceptable as part of a bird’s balanced diet.
“We would encourage feeding a range of foods as well as bread, including stale cheese, or cooked rice, adding butter to bread can also help provide a greater fat content.”
Feeding the birds has been discouraged in the past with left-over scraps of food attracting rats to the area.
A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said people were still allowed to feed the ducks and swans. She said: “Brown bread is encouraged because of its nutritious value. White bread can cause joint problems in birds.”