Sparrows Die En Masse After Eating Rice, Chinese Reactions

Sparrows, hand holding a dead sparrow bird.

From NetEase:

Sparrows Die En Masse After Snapping Up Spilled Rice, Expert: Probably Just Ate Too Much and Burst

June 29, while a cargo ship was at a dock loading a shipment of rice, a large amount of rice spilled onto the ground, whereupon 20-some sparrows died one after another after rushing to eat the rice. After the incident, the Yichang city government, public security bureau [police], and food and drug administration attached a high level of importance to it [investigated, treated it as serious]. After laboratory tests of samples taken from the ship’s four shipments of rice, it was confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the rice itself.

“Many sparrows died after eating the rice.” On the morning of June 29, a resident called the police claiming that a cargo ship docked at the Night Pearl pier was loading rice during which quite a bit of rice was spilled onto the ground. A lot of sparrows flew over to eat the rice on the ground, but not long later, they began dying one by one for unknown reasons.

Upon receiving the report, the Yichang city government flagged the incident and immediately dispatched staff along with staff from the city’s public security bureau and food and drug administration to Night Pearl pier. When they arrived at the scene, the cargo ship was still loading the rice and indeed there was quite a lot of rice spilled on the ground, with the bodies of about 20 dead sparrow in the area. Through investigation, the tens of tons of rice had four types, all produced from the northeast, to be shipped to Chongqing after being loaded here. The staff then collected samples from each of the four types and forbade the ship from leaving before the test results came back.

Technicians conducted lab tests on the samples overnight, and the four types of rice yielded no quality/safety issues. The cargo ship departed Night Pearl docks on the morning of the 30th for Chongqing. As to the death of the sparrows, the technicians say they may have died from eating too much [too much too fast, gorged themselves to death, “bursting” from food], or it may be that they had eaten something bad somewhere else and died while scrambling for the rice here by coincidence.

Comments from NetEase:

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网易河北省手机网友 ip:101.20.*.*:

Died from eating too much… I may not have a lot of education but don’t bullshit me.

wyongstar [网易上海市手机网友]:

All 20-some of them died from eating too much? Then how did a species like the sparrow manage to survive to this day?

网易广东省中山市手机网友 ip:27.42.*.*:

Don’t use an expert’s intelligence to measure a sparrow’s intelligence.

网易安徽省手机网友 ip:124.113.*.*:

Yet again an expert. Would you dare eat [that rice]?

网易福建省厦门市手机网友 ip:117.29.*.*:

Saying nonsense…also possible it was from elsewhere.

66814ef2b587eb18a224ad5e [网易广东省广州市手机网友]:

Birds have “crops“, where the food they eat is first stored in a crop where it is softened and then enter the stomach. Therefore, no matter how much they eat, they won’t die from eating too much. Have you ever seen a chicken or duck dying from eating too much? When mammals eat, it goes directly into the stomach, and thus can die from eating too much [and bursting]. For example, humans.

d3dec0c27af9f788fc020fed [懂球菜鸟]:


我是农民龚 [懂球大师]:

I’m from Yichang and my home is in the rural countryside. When I was small and the sun came out during the summer, we would lay out the wheat and corn in front of our house to dry them in the sun. A lot of sparrows would come by to eat them. This was the most annoying. You would drive them away but they’d come back, so you’d have to drive them away again, and they would come back again. Sometimes we would give up and let them eat, thinking how much could they eat anyway, and that they would fly away on their own after they’re full. In one day, a lot of flocks would come by, and what they ate wasn’t little, but I’ve never seen any eat themselves to death… Now over 20 years have gone by and seeing this piece of news today, I’m puzzled. Have sparrows become stupid or has society become black [corrupt], that this kind of explanation can be reported to the public, that this kind of article can be published, that this kind of farce can fool the masses? Grass mud horse editor/author, you will sooner or later die from eating too much as well.

TooYoo00 [懂球菜鸟]:

I wanted to eat fish tonight so I bought one from the market and brought it home and asked my wife to hurry and kill it because it’s better to eat it fresh. After a long while, I went to the kitchen to take a look and all I saw was my wife with both hands pressing the fish down in a basin filled with water. So I asked her why she has been washing the fish for so long and hasn’t begun cooking. She said: I’ll cook it once I’ve finished drowning it!

不知道该起个啥名好 [网易宁夏手机网友]:

There are so many sparrows in wheat crops yet I’ve never seen a single sparrow die from eating too much. Is this testing the ordinary common people’s intelligence? The expert, please come forward and answer the ordinary common people’s doubts/skepticism!

sl2580 [懂球帝]:

In all my years, I’ve seen many animals who have died from hunger, but this is the first time I’ve seen one who ate itself to death. Have I gotten smarter or is the expert reliable?

ybjy888 [懂球达人]:

How has the expert eaten so much black money [bribes] and not eaten himself to death yet?

Dauietr [网易新疆巴音郭楞州库尔勒市手机网友]:

Sparrows eating themselves to death? This so-called technician, how is that you haven’t eaten yourself to death?! I’ve seen a lot of sparrows but never have I seen a sparrow that ate itself to death! You SB, you don’t even know the most basic of biology and yet you still make up bullshit here. Tell us, how much money did you receive?!!

网易浙江省湖州市手机网友 ip:60.184.*.*:

I can overlook you taking me for a stupid cunt, but you fucking think sparrows are also stupid cunts? That it doesn’t even know how much it can eat?

网易湖北省手机网友 ip:120.202.*.*:

I’ve seen those that have died from hunger, from poison, from injuries, but I’ve never seen any that have died from eating too much. Looks like this is an expert.

放心纵逸 [网易黑龙江省牡丹江市手机网友]:

If the sparrow died from eating too much, then how many would die every year during the all harvest? How come I’ve never heard of a single one?! Expert, are you trying to show off your intelligence?!

网易广东省深圳市福田区手机网友 ip:121.34.*.*:

When the season where rice crops mature comes and large numbers of sparrows are in the fields fluttering about scavenging for food… I’ll angrily charge at them screaming: Eat! Eat! Just wait till you eat yourselves to death!

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  • Myk

    Dried Rice swells up when it gets wet, so yes, i could imagine that it could burst something inside a bird, when it stuffs itself with it. I remember an episode of “Hornblower”, where a ship tightly loaded with rice was leaking water, and the rice was slowly breaking the ship. Just TV of course, but doesn’t sound too unreasonable to me.

    • mr.wiener

      Yeah, I remember that book “Mr. Midshipman Hornblower”, great stuff.

      • Myk

        Got the series as ebooks somewhere, but didn’t find the time yet. I really liked these kind of stories as a kid. I must have read Midshipman Easy and Peter Simple from Marryat a dozen times when i was young. Hornblower unfortunately wasn’t available in East Germany, at least i never came across it before the wall came down. But i remember the old Gregory peck movie and have seen the TV movies.

    • lacompacida

      So you are genetically predisposed to believe the CCP ? You from Beijing ?

      • mr.wiener

        It’s not unreasonable to believe it and doesn’t automatically make you a wu mao.
        I wonder if you could eat the birds? They’re already stuffed with rice :)

      • Myk

        Nö, Berlin.

    • ex-expat

      After doing some research on the subject, apparently it is a myth that birds can die from eating rice. Their internal temperature is not high enough to cause rice to expand rapidly enough to cause death. In addition, many birds consume rice as part of their natural diet.

      • Myk

        Ok, so I can’t make birds explode with rice. Well, then I stay with firecrackers. ;)

        • ex-expat

          After doing some research, apparently firecrackers will be effective in making birds explode.

          • JabroniZamboni

            When we were kids, this asshole neighbour would douse pieces of bread with tabasco, and throw it to the seagulls. They would bolt, and almost immediately crash into the ground.

          • ex-expat

            Wow that is a pretty dick move.

          • JabroniZamboni

            That is ok really, karma caught up with him, he was shot last year. Dickheads are usually dickheads for life.

    • David Smith

      Well, you’re wrong. This was a rumor spread around the 1980s. The real cause for birds being killed at weddings was the bleach used to clean/sanitize/colorize the rice. Bleach is a poison.

      Read this article:

      It talks about even instant rice expanding by 200+% but the rice spilled wasn’t instant rice. Also, even though instant rice expands by that much, it was proven harmless to birds.

      So yea, you can kill birds by soaking your rice in bleach/poison. We’ve known that in the USA since the 1980s. Otherwise, birds won’t die from eating rice. I suppose it’s also possible that some anti-fungal or insecticides that is sprayed on rice also kill birds. There have been a bunch of studies about how some insecticides kill birds with scientific proof. However we don’t grow much rice in the USA so there doesn’t seem to be much about insecticides on rice killing birds. But you can go google about how some insecticides are proven to kill birds.

      • Myk

        Ok, seemed plausible to me at that time, but i was wrong.
        Happens often enough.

  • xiaode

    Interesting story… can´t wait for the next breaking news:
    “Chinese people die en masse from eating to much rice… (experts blame the Japanese designed rice cooker)”

    Didn´t we learn something from the US dog food incident? Chinese food is for Chinese people only, don´t feet it to animals!

    • ex-expat

      The dog food incidents made me so angry.

      • Boris

        What’s this about the dog food incident?

        • ex-expat
          • Boris

            Damn brah, that stuff reminds me of the tainted milk scandal here.

            If they can do that to their own babies, they can do it to your pet, they can do it to you!

          • NeverMind

            ‘They’ meaning all Chinese do that?

          • Boris

            They meaning people like those in China (or elsewere) who think of profit and don’t care about how it hurts other people and pass the blame when there is a problem.

      • David

        It was very sad.

  • MeiDaxia

    That’s why we don’t throw rice at weddings anymore in the USA. The birds eat it, swell up, and die. This has been common knowledge for me since middle school…?

    • bprichard

      Except it’s untrue, as common knowledge seems to be from time to time.

    • fabulous

      Or we don’t throw rice because people don’t like being forced to vacuum the steps outside their church/city hall after every wedding, just so that rats/mice don’t set up retail businesses.

    • JabroniZamboni

      Make it rain. I’ll bring the singles.

    • lacompacida

      You are not allowed to throw rice in weddings because no one would clean them up.

  • bossel

    Birds dying from eating too much rice? There are really people who believe this crap?
    “The first notable thing they found was that white rice increased in
    volume by 33% when soaked, while bird seed expanded by 40%. If rice was
    going to make birds explode, then we’d already doomed them anyway with
    birdfeeders full of seed.”

    Another source:

    Had a lot of birds when I was younger. They sometimes have problems with their crops, but usually not from eating too much & it doesn’t lead to virtually instantaneous death.

  • Irvin

    But have they examine the birds? It could’ve been air pollution that killed them, the rice just brought them to the same grave.

    • lacompacida

      No way. Examining the bird would discover wrong doings by the government.

  • xiaode

    i am just thinking….
    if you really could catch (and eat) some birds just by putting a little bit of rice somewhere…. i think there would be no birds in China anymore….

    • Jawollski

      Good point. Now my question: how often do you see birds around here (in China)?

      • bujiebuke

        I kid you not I saw a wild rooster while hiking on a small mountain in shenzhen once. It was tall, regal looking and adorned with colorful feathers. I was shocked that something like that hadn’t been eaten.

      • lacompacida

        Actually, there are migrant fowls flying between North America and North Western China (Xinjiang, Tibet, etc.)

      • Jawollski

        I just saw a young man on his electric scooter driving slowly through an industrial area in Qingpu district. He stopped at the roadside green, where there were actually some birds (sparrows to my layperson’s eyes) in the trees. He took a slingshot out of his pocket and aimed for the birds. The fourth shot was a hit and the little birdie sank to the ground. The guy picked it up, put it into his scooter case and continued to scan the trees.

    • lacompacida

      You are thinking about it correctly. During the Great Leap Forward era, one of the program was to kill all birds in China. The method practice most was having everybody, workers, students, housewives, everybody, quit doing what they do everyday, like making cars, growing grains, and gather in the farm and bang on cans, pots and pans to scare the birds so that they dare not land on the ground or anything. The birds got too tired and died. For a while, there were not too many birds in farms. But no birds means no birds to kill the insects. And the crop next year was all eaten by insects. Great experiment.

  • Jawollski

    So did anybody check the birds? Maybe an autopsy would clarify.
    Could it be that the rice lying on the ground soaked with oil or other harmful liquids usually found on a harbour dock?
    This is either not the full story or major clues have been neglected during the investigation.

    • the birds have been immediately buried upon the discovery of this incident, even those still alive but in the vicinity were also buried

      • David

        As well as any eye witnesses who suddenly did not feel well. They probably just ate themselves to death.

    • lacompacida

      Check the birds ? Why ? Isn’t the cause obvious ? Birds ate rice. Birds died. Cause: rice. Checking the birds would only discover government wrong doing.

  • JabroniZamboni

    What an utter load of bullshit. How the hell no one says or does anything about this astounds me. If it smells like shit, there is probably a turd in the vicinity. This smells like shit.

    Did you guys know that the government actually has special rice that they issue to some of their employees? Stamped as safe and unavailable to be purchased? If there is no problem with their normal rice, why do they do this? Because giving a fuck costs money.

    The problem with agriculture is not solely limited to rice. How many of the farms in this country do you think use water even unsuitable for farming? A picture is worth a thousand words:×276.jpeg

    The amount of poison people eat here is off of the charts. I personally have organic veg delivered from the mountains, but even then, who the fuck knows where it is from. Even the guy who sold me the service said, “It’s China, most of it is organic for sure, but sometimes we don’t even know.” Food scandals are brushed off here, it is amazing. Come on guys, a healthy population is a good population.

    I rarely eat rice, if I do it is never from China. I don’t get it at restaurants (unless it happens to be with sushi, which typically requires a different strain than the standard stuff found here. When I do eat it, it is always imported. I’m more of a basmatti, jasmine, arborio guy. Glutenous rice has always been on my shit list, even before I moved here.

    • lacompacida

      People are doing a lot about this. They all supported the Party and the government, and praising them for responding so quickly, before any reasonable tests can be done.

  • Science Patrol

    So what killed all the birds then?

    • Boris

      The rice.

      It was poisoned!

  • China is due for a holocaust:
    a massive bureaucracy exists
    people can efficiently manufacture products while disregarding moral registers

    • lacompacida

      30,000,000 killed in Great Leap Forward in 1950’s. Does that count ? Cultural Revolution – 1967 – 1977. Does that count ?

  • bujiebuke

    Uncooked rice does indeed expand to 30% (depending on the grain), but the notion that it kills birds by rupturing their stomach is an urban legend that also exists in the west. A simple autopsy on the birds would disprove that hypothesis.

    I seriously doubt a thorough toxicology screen yielded “no quality/safety issues”. Some of those tests take more than 1 day to complete. The fact that they reported the results the next day is suspicious, to put it mildly.

    • Boris

      They just phoned it in….

      Or someone is rolling in dough right now!

  • Rick in China

    Another great forensic analysis story — first, “well, he died, and computer is open, obviously he died from watching football”.. next, “well, _all_ the sparrows died from eating the spilled rice, obviously they ate too much, and burst.”

    Loving it. More!

    • NeverMind

      You should not be living in China bro. I heard you don’t like it much there.

      • Chris

        Now let’s talk about immigrants in Western countries (especially Europe) constantly criticizing their host country and its native folks (that include recent Chinese immigrants), should we tell them to not live there and go back to their home country? Oh no, that’s racist! But when Chinese tell foreigners to get the f* out it’s seen as a good thing. Double standards as always.

      • lacompacida

        You are still alive. That proves that living in China is safe.

  • David Smith

    lol. There were some politicians in the USA during the 1980s that believed that rice shouldn’t be thrown at weddings because birds would eat themselves to death. Turns out the rice was poisoned by bleach to make it “clean” before being used at weddings.. It’s been scientifically proven since then that birds won’t eat themselves to death so long as you don’t feed them poison..

  • sum ting wong

    I thought it was common knowledge that dry rice can kill birds. That’s why i was told it is no longer used at many weddings but i guess that’s big news here in China.

  • bujiebuke

    “That’s why you ALWAYS ALWAYS wash your rice before you cook it :).”

    I’ve always followed this rule when cooking rice for myself. It’s bewildering that some of my Korean friends tell me not to wash rice before cooking it.

    • lacompacida

      Washing rice before you cook it to remove the talcum powder they put in it to make it look white. But don’t ever do that when using Italian rice to make risotto. Risotto needs the rice powder that coat the rice to make it smooth.

  • Those sparrows were the canaries of the coal mine. A typical Beijinger’s lungs probably do not differ much from those of a veteran coal miner. Miners are, of course, alarmed by canaries dying from toxic gases, and they accept that they would have to take certain risks while on the job. The Chinese public also share the same believe that they would have to take certain liberties with their safety and well-being while “on the job”, also known as “living in China”, but the difference is that a country is not be a coal mine! How many canaries have to die and how many miners have to be killed before all of the other miners realize there is a need to change the mine?

  • JabroniZamboni

    Metro has been involved in food scandals as well. A chain is only as good as its employees. ;)

  • JabroniZamboni

    I don’t know about any of that, i’m hardly a seagull expert. I can vouch for this story’s authenticity personally. It must fuck up their stomach, even if Tabasco is quite mild according to the Scoville Scale. I should try feeding seagulls Ghost Peppers…I can’t even do this, even if I live by the ocean, as the Chinese ate all of the seagulls.

    • Rick in China

      Evil kids quickly learned, or heard, that it’s Draino on bread, not tabasco.

      Once the bread is eaten, the birds can’t burp it up, and it literally makes them explode. I’ve never done this personally, but exploding seagulls is known by anyone who grows up along the coast thru various stories, rumours, or bad influences directly.

  • Tamil Tiger

    I say the rice are contaminated. Food poisoning and contamination is very common in china.

    • lacompacida sh.. That’s not the story CCP wants people to know.

  • Pingback: China: Sparrows Die For Eating Too Much Rice? · Global Voices()

  • lacompacida

    Today, it is the sparrows. Tomorrow, when people died from contamination, pollution or even poisoning, it will be “over eating”. Congratulation to PRC for inventing another cause of death, in addition to “playing hide and seek”, “fell off bed”, “hang himself standing on the floor”, “fell while taking a shower”…

  • lacompacida

    You can buy US, Australian, Thai, Japanese and Taiwan rice.

  • xiaode

    I wouldn´t say that it´s never the fault of foreign companies… but in principle I agree. It is way more difficult (and even much more expensive) to get Quality food in China then e.g. in Europe! And this is mainly the case because you can´t trust any supplier, you can´t trust the employees, you have to double and tripple check everything and still can´t be sure that someone is not messing it up…

    … they (Chinese) are already at that point that they don´t trust their own food industry and their own food anymore…

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