Can birds eat uncooked rice?

Rice is a staple food in many cultures, this food is eaten all over the world in breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. It can be eaten daily and in some cases, it’s considered to be a sacred food, playing a part in many religious festivals and ceremonies. This food comes in many varieties such as white, brown and black, white rice being the most popular. But what about with birds? And on the topic of birds eating rice, what about uncooked rice? This article explores the question of ‘can birds eat uncooked rice’ 

Birds can eat uncooked rice, birds can eat a variety of uncooked foods, rice included. This food isn’t very interesting to birds but if there are no other food options available they will eat it. Don’t worry, rice will not make birds explode. Birds that enjoy uncooked rice include pheasants, doves, pigeons and ducks. 

Can birds eat uncooked rice?

Uncooked rice can be eaten by birds but this food isn’t very interesting to birds. Generally, if birds are offered uncooked rice some will eat it but others may see it as not ideal to eat, in this case, the bird will ignore the rice and move on to other foods. Birds that enjoy uncooked rice include pheasants, doves, pigeons and ducks 

There are benefits to feeding rice to birds. This food contains a number of healthy vitamins, minerals and other healthful compounds that will positively affect the bird’s health. These healthful nutrients include vitamin B1, B3, B5, B9 and vitamin E. This food is also high in carbs, rice is primarily carbs. However, because this food is primarily carbs and has lower levels of nutrients, it is not a good substitute for seeds and plant matter. Because of this, you should limit how much rice you give your bird 

Another reason why it isn’t always a good idea to feed rice to birds is that, for smaller birds, the rice is more difficult to swallow because it is relatively dry and large. If you’re looking to feed large birds rice then you won’t have this problem 

Will uncooked rice make birds explode? 

No, uncooked rice will not make birds explode. During the 1980’s a law was passed prohibiting the throwing of rice at weddings. The idea behind this was that the rice would be picked up by birds, eaten and kill the bird soon after. The line of thinking behind this was that the uncooked rice would soak up the fluids in the bird’s stomach and expand, expanding so much that it would cause the bird to explode and die a miserable death. This line of thinking has since been debunked. 

The speed at which rice absorbs water is very slow, not fast enough to cause the bird to explode. In addition, birds contain enzymes and acid in their digestive tract (the oesophagus) which break down rice and digests it before it reaches the stomach where it would supposedly absorb the water. 

In 2005 studies were performed to investigate this idea. The first step of the investigation was to test the expansion abilities of rice when compared to birdseed. The birdseed expanded by 40% and the rice expanded by 33%. 

Secondly, a test was performed where birds were only fed rice and water for a day. In this case, the birds did not show any signs of distress, they did not fall sick or show any signs of illnesses. 

How about cooked rice? 

Birds can eat cooked rice, cooked rice is easier to eat for smaller birds who may find uncooked rice too large and dry to eat. If you would like to treat the birds or add more variety to the bird’s food, you can add some seeds or chopped up fruit to the rice. This will add nutrients to this starchy food and make it healthier for the bird. Sticky rice can be used to create rice balls with hidden treats in the centres of the rice balls. 

Note: When feeding birds rice, cooked or not, remember to avoid adding seasonings like salt, onion, garlic or sauces to the rice. Birds cannot process salt, salt can cause birds to suffer from dehydration and thirst. Onion can be toxic to birds and can cause anaemia. Garlic causes anaemia and weakness in birds. And sauces generally contain large amounts of sugar and a variety of spices that birds can’t eat. Also, avoid cooking your rice in oils, this will simply negate the benefits that rice can offer the bird. 

What type of rice offers birds the most nutrients

Rice all around offers birds an array of vitamins and minerals. White rice is the easiest to digest. Brown rice offers the highest density of nutrients. Red rice has high amounts is iron and zinc. Black rice is very rich in antioxidants, these antioxidants exceed the antioxidants in blueberries 


In conclusion, birds will eat uncooked rice if they see it as a viable food source, the likelihood of smaller birds eating uncooked rice is small but larger birds will be happy to eat it. Birds can also eat cooked rice as long as it hasn’t been seasoned with anything or fried. Different types of rice offer different nutrients, you can feed your bird whatever rice you have on hand.

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other bird related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Do wild birds eat lettuce?, Can birds eat uncooked pearl barley?, Can wild birds eat rice Krispies cereal?, Can birds eat uncooked oats?

Can birds eat uncooked rice?
Scroll to top