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Bird Myths: Rice causes birds to explode

Egrets in a rice field.

We’ve all heard the old story. A bird eats rice thrown at a wedding, the rice expands in its stomach and the bird explodes.

This legend, along with the variations involving Alka-Selzter and Tylenol, is simply untrue.

The fact is that birds regularly eat grains like rice for nutrition. Wheat, milo, rice, millet and barley provide carbohydrates during winter months. Millet actually provides a good source of starch to small birds like juncos and sparrows.

Experts have also pointed out that many migrating birds, such as ducks and geese, eat rice from the fields for nutrition and energy during their journey back North.

Yet another buster of this myth is the Bobolink blackbird that is known for feeding on cultivated grains and rice from farms. Bobolinks consume large amounts of rice and grains and never show any adverse effects from the crop.

There are many other good reasons why you shouldn’t throw rice at weddings, including the fact that it’s slippery and hard to clean, but doing harm to birds should not be one of them.

If you’d really like to have a great bird-friendly wedding, you should consider throwing wedding birdseed.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

1 Comment

  1. the story or myth of a blackbird exploding from overeating rice is a deff. a fact. i worked as a highlineman and was near a rice field one day when a blackbird caught my eye. it seemed as if it flew into an invisable wall and fell to ground. my curiosity got the best of me and i walked over and picked the bird up. the bird’s craw had burst and a large amount of rice was oozing out of the bird. this is the second time i’ve seen this . the first was when my parakeet feeding it’s young died from gourging on seed. it’s craw burst in the same manner as the blackbird.

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