Tossing rice is a long-time wedding tradition, although the practice has been questioned for decades. Can wild birds actually explode by eating leftover uncooked rice grains thrown by celebratory guests at weddings?
Myth busters and avian scientists of every stripe have had their feathers ruffled over this rumor.
Bird experts claim avian creatures are not endangered by eating raw rice at weddings or anywhere else.
Ornithology.com tags the exploding birds claim as a myth, saying such warnings are “absolutely not true.”
“Many birds eat rice in agricultural fields,” reads a statement by the Cornell Lab or Ornithology. You can throw rice at weddings without worrying about the birds.”
“If it were [true], there would be exploding bird stories all over the national press each June,” adds Birdwatchers Digest.
Where did the wedding rice rumor begin?
The cautions about tossing rice at the departing bride and groom after their nuptials seems to have started with a 1996 piece by the late Ann Landers, a popular syndicated advice columnist.
Experienced cooks and understand that rice needs to be steamed or boiled to expand. That’s unlikely to happen inside the belly of a bird.
Still, wedding rice packets are considered a tradition of the past.
Instead, plenty of wedding planners and hosts offer packets of birdseed for guests to throw over the newlyweds making their exits from such celebrations.
To sum up, it is perfectly acceptable for the groom’s collar to be starched for his wedding, but not necessarily prudent to toss white starchy grains afterwards. The practice may not harm winged creatures, it may make a mucky mess and possible send a guest or two on a terrible tumble.
Anyone who’s ever cleaned a sticky rice pot or scooped a stumbling wedding guest off the pavement would easily opt for birdseed over rice.