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The Strange, Sometimes Kinky Cultural History of ‘Baby Birding’

From hippie parenting to college bro meme

Nothing says friendship like tucking a bib into your shirt and letting your girl spit a stream of tequila into your mouth like a bird feeding its baby.

In addition to mama birds feeding their young when they’re too fragile to leave the nest, male birds will also feed female birds as part of mating rituals, to bolster their bond and to help care for nesting or expectant mother birds. Intimate, nurturing and reckless, the act among humans combines the maternal and juvenile qualities of so many close friendships between young women.

Guys also find it strangely hot — as Ashley Leland and Kiley Fenster discovered when they uploaded their video to Instagram. The clip went viral after bro publisher Total Frat Move reposted it with the caption, “We’re baby birding all weekend.”

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We’re baby birding all weekend (@Supersmashedgirls)

A post shared by TFM (@totalfratmove) on

The internet flipped out, with all sorts of performative responses about how nasty it is. “This is so fucking disgusting. Idc who you are you not baby birding anyone keep ya saliva in ur own mouth,” wrote one Twitter user.

We also got a lesson in the strange, celeb-endorsed, fetish-adjacent cultural history of “baby birding,” the act of spitting food or drink into another’s mouth.

“We have a very close friendship to begin with,” Fenster tells me. “So when I suggested baby birding to Ash, she didn’t even hesitate. We bond over our willingness to try anything.”

The two share a “finsta” — that is, “fake Instagram,” a secondary account for shitposting — under the name @supersmashedgirls, where they originally posted the clip. They didn’t anticipate it causing too much of a stir, but it’s now garnered 1 million views on Instagram and 3.8 million on Twitter. Their baby birding clip seems tailor-made for this new era of bro Instagram, where young men and women alike try to pull off the most idiotic drinking stunts in hopes of getting aggregated on a popular account like @barsoolsports or @totalfratmove.

Both Barstool Sports and TFM have side accounts like @chicksintheoffice that are strictly for female antics. Similarly, they have tertiary accounts merely for posting photos of hot college girls. Though neither of these brands highlight men at their most noble either, there’s still something discomforting about how these accounts place women into overlapping categories of “college slut” stereotypes: the smokeshow, the drunk, the injured and the nag.

Among the viral frat accounts, this is the first hot-girl baby birding video I found — but judging from its success, I suspect it won’t be the last. Beyond this specific realm of social media, baby birding isn’t a new thing. Every so often, new examples emerge, usually in fashions far grosser than two girls swapping alcohol. Even our beloved Paul Rudd has participated:

In 2014, Daniel Tosh did a segment on new viral trends, including #babybirding, featuring him grabbing what’s supposed to be a female co-worker’s face and forcing it open as he spits cereal into her mouth. And back in 2013, Perez Hilton posted a call for baby birding videos, citing videos of Alicia Silverstone baby birding her child and Kesha baby birding her bandmates. It doesn’t appear, though, that Hilton ever followed up on the request.

Beyond premastication and the exchanging of alcohol via mouth, baby birding has another precedent, too: porn. “According to some of the comments on the video, it’s done at the end of porn vids,” Fenster found out. Yep! It’s not uncommon to witness the exchange of saliva or semen in adult films. In porn parlance, it’s known as snowballing or cum swapping.

Snowballing has been a literary metaphor in historical fiction, though when I looked for academic information about its psychological appeal, I came up short. There’s some suggestion that it’s a hyper-intimate “bonding” experience between couples, or that it relates to treating semen as a revered, symbolically charged substance.

Baby birding with food has its place in porn as well, and it has its place in one kinky internet legend: In early 2018, Redditor iPiPrince posted in r/RelationshipAdvice to ask what to do about his hot girlfriend with a baby birding fetish that he didn’t share. He recounts how it primarily started after some foreplay involving strawberries and whipped cream:

She chewed up a berry and fed it to me. I thought it was weird, but I was so horny I didn’t mind. But… now she’s starting to chew her food and feed it to me. Sometimes not in a sexual manner. Steak, chicken, salad, eggs, etc. It’s so disgusting. When I tell her to stop she starts crying and says I don’t love her enough. She’s very attractive and needs constant validation. She makes me eat her regurgitated food as ‘proof’ that I love her. Besides this, she’s honestly my ideal partner.

So, with that in mind, baby birding alcohol is totally tame. “It’s been funny to see how people react to it,” Fenster says. “I’d say half of those who watch it are mortified, and the other half think it’s funny and want to try it themselves.”

Personally, I’m in the latter camp. The first thing I did was send the video to my best friend, who quickly responded, “Bitch, that looks fun!”