On April 12, 2022, a video went viral on social media that supposedly showed bird poop falling onto U.S. President Joe Biden's shoulder as he was speaking at an event in Iowa. We examined that video and photographs from the event, and collected statements from White House officials and journalists.
Here's what we learned: What landed on Biden's lapel was more likely a corn byproduct than bird poop.
Biden was talking about the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to issue a waiver to allow for the production of E15 (a mixture of gasoline and ethanol) in an effort to lower gas prices, when something wispy and white fell on his left shoulder. A video of the incident quickly went viral on Twitter as many users assumed that a bird had pooped on the president:
But was that really bird poop? Here's what we've been able to find out.
Biden Was Standing Next to Piles of Processed Corn
Biden was speaking at POET, a bioprocessing and manufacturing plant in Menlo, Iowa. We have not been able to determine the specific facility in which Biden was speaking, but it's important to note that this was an indoor event (see photo below).
Furthermore, Biden was standing directly beside a giant pile of processed corn. In fact, photographs from the event show that corn was actively falling on this pile during Biden's speech:
The above-displayed photograph, taken by Mandel Ngan and available via Getty Images, was captioned: "A mound of processed corn is seen in the background as US President Joe Biden announces steps to ease rising consumer prices at POET Bioprocessing in Menlo, Iowa on April 12, 2022."
Clay Masters, a reporter with Iowa Public Radio, captured additional photos of the scene before Biden's speech.
It certainly seems plausible that what fell onto Biden was a piece of some sort of corn byproduct and not bird poop.
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper was at the event and told AGWired.com, an agriculture news site, that it was definitely distillers dried grain with solubles or DDGS that fell on Biden's lapel.
AG Wired reported:
"Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper was an eyewitness in the distillers grains barn with President Biden and he confirmed it was definitely DDGS responsible for spotting the POTUS lapel. "We did see something falling from the ceiling and it landed right there on his lapel and I can confirm it was not a bird dropping," said Cooper, who took this photo at the event which shows the mound of DDGS off to Biden's left side and the spot on his jacket. It came just as President Biden started to talk about products made in America and the amount of corn used at the Menlo, Iowa POET plant."
The White House Says 'Corn'
Shortly after this video went viral, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield posted a message on Twitter stating that it was corn, not bird poop, that fell on Biden's shoulder.
Bedingfield said: "If you guys knew your way around a corn silo at all, you'd know it was corn."
Justin Sink, Bloomberg's White House correspondent, came to the same conclusion, writing: "It was bits of corn flying around from the corn silo; the event was indoors."
Iowa's Des Moines Register also reported that Biden's jacket was blemished by what he called "distillers grain," not bird poop.
But it wasn't a "feathered fiend" relieving itself as characterized by the Daily Mail, a British tabloid. While there were birds in the "giant barn" where Biden spoke, according to a Des Moines Register photographer who was in the event in Menlo, Iowa, the substance that stained Biden's jacket was in fact distillers grain.
Distillers grain is "a co-product of the ethanol production process," according to the Iowa Iowa Corn Growers Association. The grain was piled 20 feet high at the site of Biden's speech.
The Photo Record
We examined photographs from Reuters, The Associated Press, and Getty Images to get a closer look at this corn/bird poop. Upon closer examination, the "bird poop" appears to be somewhat yellowish in color (like corn) and looks more like dust (i.e., from corn processing) than a liquid (i.e., bird poop).
Here's a slow motion video capturing the moment of impact: