We’ve all heard the myth that rice thrown at weddings will explode birds’ stomachs. (Not true, according to Snopes.) But that doesn’t mean chowing down on rice is a good idea for the feathered set.

A new study published in The Condor analyzed the feathers of Bobolinks to determine what they eat after they leave their North American breeding grounds and fly south for the winter. The research suggests that rice emerges as an important food source late in the winter, just as harvesting time—and northern migration time—are at hand.

These results point toward a way to help stop the plummeting of Bobolink populations. Rice farmers may use pesticides, or other methods to prevent the birds from eating their crops, further hastening the decline of the species. With this latest research in hand, advocacy organizations can work to reduce rice-related threats to Bobolinks wintering in South America.

Bobolink photo courtesy of R.M. Jensen/The Condor

Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.