Bird Myths, Facts and Urban Legends

In this article we debunk some of the most famous myths and urban legends relating to birds.

Scarlet Macaw


Myth: Birds can die from swallowing rice thrown at weddings.

Fact: This is simply not true.

Myth: You should take down your bird feeders in the fall because they keep birds from migrating and these birds will freeze to death.

Fact: If a bird fails to migrate, this is not because of the availability of food but because of a flaw in its genetic makeup.

Myth: Parents will reject a baby bird if a human handled it.

Fact: Vultures are the only birds that have a sense of smell, so birds don’t know if humans have handled their babies.

Myth: Some birds mate for life.

Fact: Although it sounds nice, it’s not really true. Some birds will mate numerous times with the same partner, but a bird’s main concern is to reproduce, regardless of the partner.

Myth: Releasing white doves or pigeons at weddings and funerals is safe.

Fact: Because these birds are raised in captivity they are incapable of surviving in the wild and will soon die.

Myth: If you see a baby bird who can’t fly on the ground you should take it home and care for it.

Fact: Unless the bird is injured this is just a normal stage of development and the bird should be left alone.

Myth: Bread is good for geese and ducks.

Fact: Bread has not nutritional value. It’s better to feed geese and ducks cracked corn, fresh vegetable trimmings, chopped hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes.

Myth: Pigeons carry diseases and even avian flu.

Fact: Pigeons are not a public health hazard.

Myth: Birds will freeze to death when temperatures get well below 0°.

Fact: Birds can survive the coldest of temperatures. They store fat during the short days of winter to keep themselves warm during the long nights.

Myth: Birds always migrate in flocks.

Fact: Most birds migrate in flocks, but common nighthawks, American robins, swallows and European starlings and some other species migrate alone.

Myth: Peanut butter will get stuck in birds’ throats, and they will choke.

Fact: Birds will not choke on peanut butter and it is actually very good for them especially in winter when the production of fat is important to their survival.

Myth: It is really important to feed birds.

Fact: Birds don’t rely on feeders for their nutritional needs and will do very nicely without them. The advantage of the feeders is for people who want to see birds congregating in their yards.

Myth: Birds sing because they’re happy.

Fact: Male birds sing to warn other birds to keep away and to attract females.

Myth: Birds are stupid.

Fact: Although birds have small brains, they are quite intelligent. Birds can recognize relatives they haven’t seen in years, tell a neighbour from a stranger just by its voice, remember the location of food they hid away months earlier, and even use tools.

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