Fact or Fiction: Never Feed Rice To Birds

We’ve all heard the warning: don’t feed rice to birds or don’t throw rice at weddings because birds will eat it. Fact is, rice cooked or uncooked won’t hurt wild birds at all. The rumor is that uncooked rice hits the bird’s tummy and then swells causing its stomach to explode. It’s simply not true. It’s not hot enough in a bird’s stomach to actually “cook” the rice. So, the rice doesn’t swell and cause any sort of an explosion.

According to Snopes.com, the rumor was perpetuated in a 1996 Ann Landers column. But, no need to worry. Birds eat rice during migration all the time, and they do just fine. While the  rumor that eating rice kills birds isn’t true, fact is it’s been so popular that the rumor has pretty much killed the tradition of throwing rice at weddings. It may be for the best. Rice probably isn’t the easiest thing for churches to have to clean. Many people have switched from throwing rice to throwing white millet at weddings. It’s environmentally friendly for the birds, and it’s soft on the happy couple.

Please send us your fact or fiction questions. You can also visit colesbird1.wpengine.com and ask Professor Jay all your burning bird questions. Whether he gives you an accurate answer or not, he claims to know it all, and you’ll have fun listening to him come up with some sort of answer.


  1. Charles Walker says:

    /while white rice is stable and can last nearly forever, brown rice still has oil in the brown outside and becomes rancid. When I have old brown rice, rather than cooking it 45 minutes and finding it with a rancid taste, I toss it. I have not given it to birds, thinking it to be harmful.What a waste. Now I know birds
    can eat it.

    • Web Bird says:


      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Please feel free to share it. This may help others as well.

  2. We once were trying to rescue a baby duck that was orphaned. He looked maybe a few days old… perhaps five inches tall when upright. We didn’t know what they should eat because this was before the internet was around. He gobbled up some bread bits and uncooked white rice, but not tons of it. The baby duckling was dead in the morning. No joke. Maybe older birds have some grit in their gizzard which can digest the stuff? He was not injured or sick before we went to bed that night and was kept warm indoors sleeping in a closed cardboard box of towels for a nest. He had just been swimming around in the bathtub happily before bed, wagging his tail a lot. And was dried off before bed. I’ll refrain from feeding birds uncooked rice because I’ve seen what it *can* do to young birds. Situations like ours might be was caused the “myth” to exist. It’s not always a myth.

    • Sometimes baby birds just die. Stress is a big factor for birds. Stress can very quickly kill them. Even as an experienced owner of parrots, mostly the lovely GCC, i understand that sometimes, they just die. We seperate new birds for forty days, or more, plus vet check before we will let them near our other birds. Birds are also amazing at hiding illness. Most people do not know a bird is sick until it is to late. If my parrots were sick, the only clue i may have is that they may act a bit off. There are very small clues, such as being puffed up, or sitting on the ground of their homes (i understand ducklings are always on the ground, so that cant be used as a tool). Though if you, or someone else were to come into the home and meet them, most likely you wouldnt be able to know the animal is ill or stressed. You really, REALLY have to know the individual to know how they act to tell if they are sick. We feed our parrots cooked rice all the time. Ive never given them raw rice. I will state that up front. They do both enjoy bread as a treat. Unfortunitly, most likely, the baby duck died from stress or an illness you couldnt see, or even shock, instead of food. Rice is deffenitly a food ducks would eat in the wild, and they dont have owners to cook it for them, and they do eat bread all the time in the wild. If bread was a duck killer, little kids wouldnt be taken to the park to throw bread at the ducklings because there would be dead ducks and geese lining the shore.

      • Web Bird says:

        Thanks Jo for providing your insight. Please feel free to let us know about any other myths you may have heard about wild birds.

  3. I can not for the life of me figure out why it is any easier to clean up any variety of bird seed than rice. That is preposterous–vacuum it up. Trouble with bird seed is it does germinate in the lawn and shrub areas and then the gardener must deal with that weed.

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