Does Rice Kill Birds?

posted on December 13, 2012
bs_2015_fs.jpg (27)

Recently I attended a wedding, and just as I was about to toss the rice that some thoughtful wedding planner had handed me, some city girl in a high heels and a devilish frown chastised me for even thinking about it.

My look of bewilderment must have queued my confusion, because without me asking for her explanation, she explained.

She told me that birds, “all types of birds,” she said, “can’t eat raw rice because they can't digest it, then it swells with moisture quickly and soon kills them."

“Same as Alka-Seltzer does seagulls,” quipped her slick-shoed hubby. I'd have bet my date that he'd never stepped a foot into a cold pond at dawn in his life.

I didn’t say anything at the moment, but my gut told me to climb to the top of the church’s steeple and ring the BullShooter bell loud and clear.I actively seek out rice fields when I wish to bag a limit of ducks, and I know doves also love it. And the only doves I've seen killed in a rice field were those that took on too many of my No. 8s. Nonetheless, I kept my mouth shut out of respect for the beautiful bride.

The Myth
Raw rice eaten by birds will kill them.

The Facts
I consulted a trained biologist currently employed by Ducks Unlimited for his opinion. Mike Checkett told me the following:

• "This myth pops up periodically, and it is unfounded. Many migrating ducks and geese depend on winter-flooded rice fields each year to build fat reserves for their return trek to northern nesting grounds. Farmers flooding these fields post-harvest provide a great service providing critical wintering habitats that replace historic wetlands that have been degraded or lost completely."

• "Yet rice does pose a unique danger at weddings. Not to birds, though; to people. Scattered on a hard surface (such as the steps of a church or a dancefloor) it puts anyone who walks across that surface at risk of taking a nasty spill."

• "Don't worry about the birds!Worry about the [crazy] in-laws!"

• "Some seeds do in fact cause what is called crop impaction. One in particular is soybeans. When ducks or geese eat large quantities of dry soybeans and then drink water the soybeans can swell. No explosions, but impacting the crop can cause birds to die."

• "So I wouldn't suggest throwing soybeans at a wedding either, both for the birds and the bride. They would hurt!"

The Biology-Based Answer
While some seeds such as soybeans, can be harmful to some birds, rice thrown at weddings is only dangerous to rowdy humans who may slip on it and fall.

The Bullshooter's Answer
Save Rice, Eat a Bird.


Winchester 6.8 Western Copper Impact Ammo Lead
Winchester 6.8 Western Copper Impact Ammo Lead

First Look: Winchester 6.8 Western Copper Impact Ammo

Winchester’s new 6.8 Western 162-grain solid copper load sports their Copper Impact bullet, boasting a muzzle velocity of 2875 fps. It shoots accurately, hits hard and penetrates deeply.

Indiana Artist Wins California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest

A painting of mountain quail has been chosen by a panel of judges as the winning entry in the 2021-2022 California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest. The painting was created by Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Indiana.

First Look: FORLOH Hunting Apparel

FORLOH is on a mission to design, source and manufacture world-class hunting apparel right here in the USA. Engineered with a ‘no concessions’ approach, every piece of gear is backed by a lifetime guarantee. 

New for 2022: Savage 110 Magpul Hunter

A hybrid hunting/target rifle, the newest Savage 110 translates deadly range accuracy into notched tags and a full freezer.

Oregon: ODFW announces 2023 annual wildlife art contest

The winning artist in each contest receives a $2,000 award and winning artwork is used to produce collector's stamps and other promotional items with sale proceeds benefitting Oregon's fish, wildlife and their habitats.

Primos Releases New Trigger Stick Gun Mounted Bipods

Primos hunting has announced its new line of Trigger Stick Gun Mounted Bipods, which come in short, medium and tall heights.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.