Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

Can Birds Eat Rice (Cooked & Uncooked)? What You Need To Know!

Last Updated on

rice bird

There has long been a myth swirling around that it is unsafe to feed rice to birds. The myth claims that rice will swell in the bird’s stomach, causing the stomach to explode. This myth is simply untrue. Rice is perfectly safe for birds to eat in both cooked and uncooked forms. 

Birds can and do eat rice and many species even enjoy eating rice. Both cooked and uncooked rice is completely safe and palatable for birds to eat, although some birds may be a bit hesitant to eat cooked rice because of its appearance.

Keep reading to learn more about feeding rice to birds.

hummingbird divider

Is Rice Safe for Birds To Eat?

Rice is completely safe for birds to eat. It provides carbohydrates and minerals to offer the bird quick and filling energy. Most birds have diets that include grains, and rice is a type of grain. As a result, it is safe for birds to eat rice, both cooked and uncooked.

If you decide to cook rice, make sure it is only boiled and is free from any fat or seasoning. Fat and seasoning should not be consumed by any bird. So, rice is only safe for birds if it is completely free from any other ingredients.

bird eat rice
Image Credit: Alexandre Laprise, Shutterstock

Why Some People Believe Rice Is Unsafe for Birds To Eat

Even though rice is perfectly safe for birds to eat, there are a lot of myths and rumors circulating about rice being dangerous for birds. Most commonly, these myths claim that uncooked rice is dangerous for birds because it swells in their stomach.

The idea behind this myth isn’t completely false. As you know, uncooked rice swells whenever it is boiled and cooked. As a result, this fact has led some people to believe that uncooked rice will swell inside the bird’s stomach and cause it to explode.

This issue of uncooked rice swelling is not something you need to worry about. In order for uncooked rice to swell, it must be cooked in boiling water, which is over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The internal temperature of a bird does not get above 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Consequently, it’s impossible for uncooked rice to swell inside the bird’s stomach.

Not to mention, most birds process rice so quickly that it doesn’t give the rice a chance to cook. The exact processing time will depend on how much rice is consumed and the size of the bird. However, most small birds can completely process food within 45 minutes.

Key Takeaway – Rice Is Safe For Birds To Eat

Needless to say, it is completely safe for birds to eat rice, despite the fact that uncooked rice swells when boiled. Because of the internal temperature of the bird, uncooked rice will not swell after being consumed. This makes both uncooked and cooked rice safe for birds.

hummingbird divider Do Birds Like Rice?

Many birds outside your home absolutely love rice. The trick is determining if the birds outside your home like uncooked or cooked rice better. You will largely be able to predict what type of rice your birds will like based on the species.

Species like finches and sparrows prefer raw rice. That’s because they have beaks designed to crush grains. The size, appearance, and texture of raw rice are much more palatable for them than cooked rice. Birds like this will prefer raw rice and may even avoid cooked rice simply because it is unfamiliar to them.

In contrast, some birds have generalist diets, which means they will eat just about anything they can consume. Blackbirds, blue jays, grackles, and starlings will eat soaked, boiled, and uncooked rice without any hesitation.

If you are unsure what kind of bird you have in your yard, it’s best to go with raw rice. It isn’t because cooked rice is dangerous for the bird. It is simply because birds are more familiar with the texture of raw rice and are more likely to eat it if it is not soaked or boiled.

rice grain
Image Credit: NatureFriend, Pixabay

Is White Or Brown Rice Better for Birds?

Brown rice is healthier for birds, though white rice isn’t unhealthy. Brown rice simply has more energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. In other words, brown rice has higher nutritional content, which means the birds will get more from the brown rice than white rice.

White rice is far from being unhealthy for birds, though. It simply does not have as much nutritional content. If you have leftover white rice, feel free to feed that to the birds. If you are specifically buying rice for birds, opt for brown rice for its additional nutritional benefits.

Related Read: Can Birds Eat Grapes? What You Need to Know!

Is Cooked Or Uncooked Rice Better for Birds?

Both cooked and uncooked rice is healthy for birds as long as it does not contain any additional ingredients. Even so, most birds prefer uncooked rice simply because the texture and appearance are as familiar as grains.

If you are specifically getting rice to feed to birds, it’s best to go with uncooked rice. Not only is it more familiar for the bird, but it is easier for you. The uncooked rice will provide all of the nutritional benefits of rice and can easily be consumed by both adult birds and baby birds.

If you have any leftover rice, you can feed that to birds as well. However, it is imperative that the rice does not contain any fat or seasoning. You should not feed your leftover rice to birds if it contains butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, or any other seasoning. Even lightly salted rice is not good for birds.

So, both cooked and uncooked rice are equally healthy for birds assuming that there is no additional ingredient in the rice.

Cook RIce
Image Credit: leecine, Pixabay

How To Prepare Rice For Birds

Preparing rice for birds is super easy. The easiest method is simply tossing uncooked, raw rice out for the birds. The bird’s beak will be able to crush the grain so that they can eat it without any issues or dangers of choking.

If you don’t want to toss completely raw rice into your yard, you can always soak the rice. This will help to get the starches off the rice and make it slightly softer for the bird to consume. Do not add anything other than water to the soaking process.

You can also feed birds cooked rice, but there’s no point in doing so. If you have leftover cooked rice, make sure that the rice is simply boiled. It should not be fried or contain any extra fat or seasoning. Plain-boiled rice is safe for birds, but rice cooked with fat and seasoning is not.

Related Read: Can Birds Eat Popcorn? What You Need to Know!

hummingbird divider Final Thoughts

Birds can eat both cooked and uncooked rice. Despite many myths and rumors, uncooked rice does not swell in the bird’s stomach because the bird’s internal temperatures do not get high enough to cook the rice. Just make sure that the rice you select is free from any additional fat or seasoning.

To make the job easier for both you and the bird, opt for uncooked rice. Not only is it completely safe for the bird, but birds are more familiar with eating raw grains, and it does not require any extra work on your part. If you have your choice between rice types, select brown rice for its higher nutritional content.

You might also be interested in: Can Birds Eat Bread? What You Need to Know!

Featured Image Credit: ImageParty, Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.