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I’m getting married next month. Is it true that rice causes birds’ stomachs to explode?

A dove at a wedding. Photo by SAM Nasim via Creative Commons.
A dove at a wedding. Photo by SAM Nasim.

Nope! This myth has been making the rounds on and off, sometimes based on “true” stories that even in this day and age never seem to have any video or photographic support.

A great many birds, from waterfowl to Bobolinks, feed on rice in nature. It is easily digestible.

The tradition of throwing rice at the end of the ceremony symbolizes rain, a sign of prosperity, fertility and good fortune. However, even if rice doesn’t harm birds, it is slippery, posing a hazard for people wearing smooth-soled dress shoes. It also may attract rodents.


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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library