Whether or not birds can eat rice has been talked about for years. It was even said that if pigeons were given rice, they could explode or be poisoned. But is this true? Not at all. In fact, this myth started in the United States and with pigeons. It was over the years that this false belief spread to the rest of the world, affecting other birds as well.

Next, in this article, we will explain why birds can eat rice. Attentive!

A little history

The origin of this false myth dates back to 1985, when Mae S. Schmidle, a representative of the State of Connecticut, decided to impose a law prohibiting the use of rice at weddings. As an excuse, he said that the rice that was left on the ground after a wedding was eaten by pigeons and they not only died, but exploded due to their difficult intake.

To corroborate this, he said that it had already happened in other countries and they had imposed the same law in order to take care of these animals. However, when someone asked him what other countries it had happened in, Schmidle simply replied “I don’t know.”

What do pigeons and birds eat

Pigeons and birds in general are capable of feeding on practically anything they find on the street, but especially they feed on different types of grains and seeds, such as:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Linen
  • Broad beans
  • Dari
  • Hemp
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Rape
  • Lentils
  • Green peas
  • Carob
  • Rice

Exactly, rice is part of the diet of birds. Next we will talk to you in more detail about why pigeons do not explode with rice.

Do pigeons explode if you give them rice?

As we said, this belief came to be extended to any type of bird. That is why many people, having birds as pets, are afraid to give them rice if they ever run out of food for fear that their stomach cannot bear the heavy intake of rice, but the truth is that, as we have just seen, the rice is inside of the diet of birds.

And what about the pigeons? Much has been said that if you give rice to the pigeons they die or explode, but this is totally false. In the next section we will scientifically demonstrate why.

Scientific studies on pigeons and rice

In 2002 a biologist named Jim Krupa conducted an experiment at the University of Kentucky, which was later published in 2005 in the journal The American Biology Teacher.

To carry out this research, several species of birds were carried out and they were all fed different types of seeds. What was discovered was that birdseed expanded much more in the stomach than rice, specifically 17% more.

However, there was one type of rice that expanded 240% in the animal’s stomach: it was instant brown rice. While, for its part, white instant rice expanded 270%.

These latest data may seem most alarming, but the truth is that no bird suffered any mishap. They were all able to properly digest the various types of rice, including the latter two. In fact, the health status of these animals was being monitored at all times, and none of them suffered any discomfort.

Fun facts

After Schmidle’s dangerous alert in 1985, there were couples who when it came to getting married looked for other alternatives:

  • Butterflies: An animal-loving couple did not want to harm the pigeons, so they decided to get butterflies instead of rice for their wedding, and the result was not at all as expected: after several hours inside a box, the butterflies died before that they could give the first flap.
  • Pigeons: Another American couple decided, instead, to buy pigeons to release them the moment they came out of giving each other the “I do.” What happened was that they did not know that pigeons purchased in pet shops come with clipped wings. Thus, not only were they unable to fly, but they are said to have attempted to climb a nearby tree and were attacked and killed by squirrels.


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