If you have already purchased the best squirrel proof bird feeder available for your garden feathered companions, and you now are interested in finding good foods that you can feed them, we are here to lend you a hand.
In this short but inclusive article we have decided to provide you with an answer to the question can birds eat rice. Therefore, if you want to learn more about the subject, keep on reading!
How harmful is rice?
Recent studies have shown that rice does not cause harm to garden birds. A popular urban legend says that uncooked rice expands in the stomach of birds and that, as a result, it can lead to them dying. However, at the end of the day, this is only a myth that is not backed up by facts.
Just like other animals, birds can eat grains and they can digest this kind of food easily. So, it is not unsafe to provide them with uncooked rice.
Why is rice banned at weddings?
Throwing rice at weddings is a popular tradition. Tossing it at the end of a wedding ceremony is meant to symbolize rain, which is a sign of prosperity, good fortune and even fertility in some cultures.
In India, the bride is the one that throws the rice as a sign of her appreciation for all the love and support that she was shown by her parents. As she takes her first steps into her new life and leaves the home of her parents, the bride throws a handful of rice behind her and, therefore, she blesses the house that she is leaving.
In Hindu tradition, daughters are seen as an embodiment of the goddess of wealth and food. In this regard, the action of tossing rice has more meaning.
Although, as we have already seen, rice is not harmful to wildlife, there are numerous churches and wedding venues that have banned the throwing of rice in recent years. The reason for this is more practical than it first meets the eye.
Firstly, rice is not very easy to clean, not even with a vacuum cleaner. Additionally, stepping on rice is rather dangerous and it can lead to serious injuries. After all, nobody wants his/her special day ruined by such an accident.
As an alternative, some recommend that you instruct your guests to look for alternatives such as rose petals or biodegradable confetti that is easier to clean.
Cooked vs uncooked rice
All birds have a capable digestive system that allows them to digest cooked rice, no matter if it is white or brown. Cooked rice is nutritious and, thus, safe for your feathered companions. Still, it is advisable that you do not add salt to it while you are preparing it.
When it comes to uncooked rice, it should be said that it might be less interesting to birds than the cooked alternative. Birds such as pigeons, pheasants, and doves do usually eat uncooked rice. However, smaller species might not be able to eat it because of its size.
If your garden birds are smaller in size, you can always invest in mixes that come supplied with ingredients that are easier to swallow. You can find mixtures of this sort at your local pet shop.
What else to feed birds?
There are numerous types of foods that you can safely give to birds. If you are in need of inspiration, keep reading as you will surely find the answers that you need.
Nuts and seeds
Black sunflower seeds are easily accessible throughout the year and they are quite affordable, which is why many buy them. Plus, the oils that they contain are nutritious. The biggest advantage of this sort of seeds is the fact that they do not cause a lot of mess.
Peanuts are also a popular alternative. Before you feed them to your lovely flock of visitors, make sure that you crush them so that they can easily eat them. You should avoid peanuts that are salted or roasted, as they are not particularly safe.
Even more so, you should know that peanuts can contain high levels of a toxin called aflatoxin that can actually kill the birds. So, it is best that you purchase the peanuts from a trusted dealer or from online shops that have been vetted by fellow buyers.
Food bars and bird cake
In winter, vets recommend that you provide your garden visitors with fat balls and other foods that are rich in fats. Food bars can be purchased online. If you do so, be sure to remove the plastic bags before you place them outdoors. This way, you can avoid trapping and, in some cases, injuring the birds.
You can also prepare bird cakes in the comfort of your home. To do so, you will need melted fat, a mixture of seeds, dried fruits, nuts, and oatmeal. For best results, you should use 1/3 of fat and 2/3 of the seed mixture.
All the ingredients should be placed in a bowl and then, they should be stirred well. Finally, allow the cake to set in a container. Some fellow bird enthusiasts recommend that you place the cake in an empty coconut shell.
Recently, live foods have also gained some popularity amongst bird feeders. You can purchase mealworms or wax worms, depending on your budget. Generally, mealworms are more accessible and they are well-liked by birds.
No matter the type of live foods that you decide to acquire, you should make sure that you only provide the birds with fresh products. Discolored or dead worms should be avoided because they can cause salmonella poisoning.
If you hate the idea of having to handle live worms, you can always settle for dry ones. You can find products of this kind online, as well as in your local pet shop.
Foods that you should avoid at all costs
As expected, there are a couple of foods that have been deemed unsafe for wildlife. Because of this, you should never provide them to your feathered companions.
The digestive systems that birds have are not in any way equipped to actually break down milk. Therefore, you should not give milk to them. Still, it should be noted that birds can, in fact, digest fermented dairy products such as cheese.
Stale and moldy foods
There are numerous people who believe that it is acceptable to give stale or moldy foods such as bread to birds. Yet, studies have shown that this is not the case. Even though some molds are regarded as harmless, some can actually cause serious respiratory infections. Because it is difficult to tell which is which, it is best that you avoid moldy foods.
If the food that you have supplied the birds in your garden with has turned stale or moldy, it is recommended that you remove it as fast as possible. Stale food is also an issue because it can be the perfect place for salmonella bacteria to grow.
It is also best that you do not leave significant amounts of food scattered in your garden or back yard, as it might attract pests such as mice and rats. Plus, rats often carry diseases that are dangerous to humans.
Vegetable oils and polyunsaturated margarine
These two foods are also unsuitable for your feathered companions. Birds need significant levels of saturated fats so that they can keep warm during the winter, and these foods cannot supply them with them.
On top of that, it has been demonstrated that soft fats that can be found in vegetable oils and in polyunsaturated margarine can also get smeared onto the feathers of the birds and, thus, destroy their isolating and waterproofing qualities.
Tips and tricks
Apart from foods, you should also provide birds with a source of water, no matter the season. Water bowls should be refilled regularly and they should be placed in open spaces, away from areas covered in bushes where predators can easily hide.
As a plus, it is best that you clean the feeders on a weekly basis and that you at least rinse them before filling them again. To avoid the transmission of diseases, some also argue that it is a good idea to rotate the place in which you place the feeders as well as the water bowls.
If you own cats or dogs, the feeders should be placed up high, in a place where your pets cannot reach them.