There might be several reasons you want to expand your knowledge on birds you can eat. This might be out of curiosity and the need to spice things up in your kitchen. Or maybe you have an upcoming event and you want a scrumptious bird to be on the menu. Or perhaps you are an outdoor lover on a camping adventure and you’re wondering which birds you can capture and cook.
Whatever the reason, you have come to the right place!
Most people’s knowledge of edible birds is limited to poultry. Poultry is a delicacy that most people enjoy across the world and with good reason. Poultry meat is delicious and not to forget, a good source of protein, iron, and zinc.
However, poultry birds are is not the only edible birds you can dig your teeth into. In this article, we provide you with a list of birds that are safe to eat. Read through the article and get to know other birds you can eat.
Who knows, one of these might end up as your next meal.
Chickens are at the top of this list because they are among the most popular birds you can eat. It accounts for 90% of the world’s poultry population. But did you know that chicken was not originally domesticated for culinary reasons? Research shows that people from China and Southeast Asia were the first to domesticate chicken but for cockfights.
Chicken meat, however, gained popularity with time and is now among the most consumed bird meat.
Chicken meat is readily available. You can rear them yourselves, buy them from your local market or even order them from your favorite restaurant. Other than their good taste, chicken meat is a healthier option than red meat. Chicken meat is also a good source of vitamin A, B, and D, and minerals such as selenium and phosphorus.
There are several species of doves some of which exist as domestic animals while others roam in the wild. Common domestic dove species include the white dove, the rock pigeon, and tumbling pigeons. Wild dove species include the snow pigeon, rock pigeon, and mourning dove.
Despite the difference in habitats, all dove species are edible.
People domesticate doves for various reasons. Some people keep doves for aesthetic value and as pets. Other people rear them exclusively for their meat. Most people who have eaten dove meat say it tastes better than chicken or duck. This alone can be a reason for you to include it in your next.
Dove meat is also more nutritious than chicken meat. It contains more protein than chicken. Dove meat has as much protein content as cow meat. While cow meat has 18.8 grams of protein in every 100 grams, dove meat has 17.5 grams of protein in every 100 grams.
Despite their nutritional value, doves are smaller in size. You will need to cook several if you intend to have them as the main course. Dove meat also tends to be naturally dry. A common solution to this is wrapping your dove meat with bacon while cooking it. You can also make a marinade to soak your dove in.
Emu is a flightless bird that is native to Australia but is also common in Indonesia, Solomon Island, New Guinea, and the Philippines. You can also find emu birds in farms and ranches across the world or order the meat from stores.
This bird belongs to the ratite family and is the second-largest bird in the world, after its relative the Ostrich.
Emu meat has a similar taste and texture to beef. It, however, has a higher nutritional value which makes it a healthier alternative to red meat. The American Heart Association even recommends emu meat over red meat.
Emu meat has less sodium and cholesterol and more protein, iron, and vitamins than most meats. It also has fewer bones, and fat, giving you quality for your money. It is also easy to prepare in several ways because it is tender and has less fat.
The guinea fowl is native to Africa, North America, and India. They are primarily wild birds. You can, however, domesticate them.
Some people rare guinea fowls for ornamental value. Guinea fowl feathers that have striking white spots often make beautiful jewelry and decorative crafts. Other than their aesthetic value, people also keep guinea fowls for their delicious meat.
Guinea fowls have white meat like chicken but taste more like pheasant birds. It is, however, less gamey than pheasant meat and very moist. Guinea fowls also have a high meat-to-bone ratio. Its breast, for example, has more meat than that found on the chicken breast.
In addition to these, guinea fowl meat is very nutritious. It contains high levels of protein. As such, incorporating it into your meals is a good idea if you’re athletic or looking to build muscles. Guinea fowl meat is also rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamins A, B6, C, and D.
The house sparrow is a common bird species present in most places around the world. They often exist as invasive bird species which thrive in human habitations. Most people consider them to be pesky pests and resort to cooking them as a control method.
They are, however, small in size and have a lot of bones. You will have a hard time trying to remove the meat from the bones. You’re, therefore, better off grilling them as a whole.
House sparrow meat has little fat. As a result, the meat tends to have a crunchy delicious taste if you grill them.
Pheasants are native to Asia and Britain. Even so, you can easily find them in other parts of the world. These birds primarily exist in the wild but you can also keep them as domestic poultry. Unlike most wild birds, pheasants are low-flying and as such, are easy to hunt and catch.
People have contradicting opinions on what pheasant meat tastes like. Some people say it tastes like a chicken while others emphasize that it tastes like turkey, duck, and even quail.
Pheasant meat is, however, without a doubt darker than chicken meat. This is especially true for wild pheasants. Domestic pheasants have pinkish-white meat. Pheasant meat is also gamier than quail and has a nuttier taste than turkey.
Wild pheasant meat is leaner than domestic pheasant meat. Even so, both kinds of pheasant meat are low in sodium and rich in protein. Pheasant meat is also a good source of zinc, iron, selenium, and vitamin B12.
Their meat also has less cholesterol and saturated fat.
Quails are native to ancient Egypt and North America. Even so, you can find them in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America. Quails are also both domestic and wild birds. They are, however, not common in most butcheries and meat sections in stores.
Therefore, you’ll have to purchase them by making a special order.
Quails have a similar taste to chicken with a bit more flavor. They also have small and tender bones which can be eaten as well. Other than protein, quail meat has three times more iron than chicken. It is also rich in potassium, zinc, and vitamin B3 and B6.
Although quail meet meat can stay frozen for months, it tends to go bad easily. You should, therefore, cook it within two days of purchasing it. Additionally, make sure you only store it in the fridge for up to four days when cooked.
Failure to observe these cautionary steps can lead to food poisoning.
Ostrich is the largest bird known to exist in the world. Natively, they are found in Africa and rarely thrive in other parts of the world. Ostrich meat is among the most superior meats in the world.
To begin with, ostrich meat is quite rare and has a high demand. Ostrich meat also has a unique pH that doesn’t attract harmful Salmonella and E. coli bacteria. Additionally, ostrich meat tastes like beef and is not gamey. Even though the ostrich is a bird, nutritionists classify its meat as red and not white meat. This is because of the type of muscles found in ostriches.
Unlike other birds, ostrich muscles have a higher concentration of myoglobin protein and oxygen. These two characteristics help support the active nature of ostriches and give it its characteristic red color.
For these reasons, ostrich meat is quite expensive but it is worth every coin.
Although ostrich is red meat, it is healthier than other red meats. For starters, ostrich meat is 97% fat-free, making it low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of iron, protein, niacin, selenium, vitamin B6 and B12, thiamin, and phosphorus.
Ostrich meat is also versatile and you can cook it in different ways.
This is among the oldest birds known to man and is native to Asia and the Middle East. Squab is a young pigeon of about four weeks that is yet to mature. As such, its meat is very tender in comparison to mature pigeons which have tougher meat.
Squab is a domestic bird and is among the only six species of pigeons that are primarily reared for meat in the world.
Squab meat is dark-colored and slightly gamey. It tastes like duck meat but is less fibrous. This meat is rich in iron, proteins, and vitamin B. Unlike other birds in this article, squab meat is high in cholesterol and fat.
We, therefore, recommend removing its skin before you eat them to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol you consume.
Because squabs are small in size, you can cut them into halves or quarters when cooking them. Most people, however, prefer to grill or stuff and cook them whole. You should also note that just like other birds, squabs have a high risk of Salmonella contamination.
As such, you should be mindful of how you prepare and cook this meal.
Partridge is a small bird that weighs about 3 pounds. It is native to Asia, Europe, and North America and exists as both a domestic and wild bird. Only two varieties of partridge are edible; the red-led partridge and the grey partridge.
Partridge meat tends to decay fast. As such, you should preserve it properly, preferably frozen. Frozen partridge is only good for up to three days. You can also preserve partridge in temperatures ranging between 60° to 70°. This will, however not prevent decaying like a freezing will.
Because partridge is a small bird, it requires less time to cook. You should, however, remember that partridge meat is very tender. Thus, although it needs to be cooked properly, you should not overcook it as it will become dry. Their small size also means a whole partridge can only serve one.
Partridge meat is a good source of protein, iron, magnesium. It is also rich in selenium, potassium, and vitamin B.
Not all birds are edible. Some birds produce toxins as a self-defense mechanism against their prey. Production of toxins is a special evolutionary trait present in particular birds only. Toxic birds obtain these toxins from the animals and plants they eat. It is dangerous to not only eat but also touch such birds.
You should, therefore, avoid these birds at all costs. These toxic birds include;
Bronzewing Pigeon: The toxicity of the bronzewing pigeon is due to feeding on Gastralium seeds. These seeds contain alkaloid and fluoroacetate compounds which are neurotoxins.
European Quail: This bird cause poisoning commonly known as coturnism. Signs of coturnism include severe muscle pain, gastroenteritis-diarrhea, fever, loss of voice, lower-limb paralysis. If untreated, coturnism may result in death due to kidney failure and cardiac arrest.
Ifrita Birds: The ifrita bird is from New Guinea. It contains batrachotoxins both in their feathers and skins. As such, even just touching this bird can be fatal. The toxins levels in the Ifrita bird vary with their habitat. This is because different habitats have varying populations of the Choresine species beetle.
These insects are the primary dietary cause of the toxins in the ifrita birds.
Ruffed Grouse: This bird is interesting as its toxicity keeps shifting. This bird is most toxic during winter and least toxic during other seasons. This is because the ruffed grouse changes its diet across the seasons.
The primary source of its toxicity is the quacking aspen flower buds that blossom in winter. These flower buds contain coniferyl benzoate. This toxin inhibits protein digestion and has antiestrogenic effects.
We’re certain this list provides you with ample options for bird meat you can eat. So, give either one a try and let us know which one you like best.