Eating Bird

Picture courtesy of Maslowski/National Wild Turkey Federation

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought it about time we venture into the world of eating bird.  Sure, we’ll talk about your traditional Thanksgiving turkey, but I’m interested in the more unique birds and items people eat. Eating quail and duck isn’t totally unique, but Quail Eggs are fun and there are some good duck recipes with the meat or don’t do the work and find some duck fat fries. How about some Partridge, pigeon (the rat of the sky), pheasant, and grouse. Plus, the big birds, cousins Emu and Ostrich and a little bit of Rhea. For all your chicken needs for raise them for meat yourself, could be fun. And even though I am totally against eating them because they are a top 4 animal in my book, Penguin.

First, the turkey because people like holidays. A brief history of how the turkey came to where it is today shows that the turkey population almost ceased to exist. Like often seen with species in the 19th century, hunters took advantage of the plentiful amount that existed on the land. As they spread further west to take over more land, more turkeys were discovered and killed. Finally, with some federal protection turkeys began to survive. Now, you might even see a wild turkey in your suburban neighborhood. I had the honor of seeing one cross the street a few years ago. So, you enjoy the taste and think how about I raise some wild turkey! Okay, very few actually think that, but if you do… here is a intro article into it and an in depth beginners books that exists. And of course, some nice turkey recipes for when that thing is ready to move on from your backyard to your dinner plate. And as an added bonus, a turkey confit recipe courtesy of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

Moving on, let’s check out the essence that is the “game bird”. The University of Minnesota has a nice breakdown of the world of these birds. And even a brief synopsis of how to raise them yourself if you don’t feel like hunting is included there. Be careful if you’re buying game bird to eat, however, as the FDA doesn’t have many guidelines or testing for that meat.

One of the most common game birds is pheasant. You can do a lot of cooking with the young or old. The pheasant has 35 different species and are seemingly most commonly hunted in Britain. But do not fear, in America there are many dedicated sites to bird hunting, including the pheasant to show you where to go. Part of the pheasant family is the well known Partridge. Here’s a little hunting guide for Partridge and Grouse. And a very nice sounding Pan-Fried Partridge recipe.

Moving from the pheasant we’ll get right into the pigeon. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of them as animals. They irritatingly fly around waiting for food, swarm to whomever has food, and poop on people (true story). So I encourage you to eat the rats of the sky all you want. And if you’re really daring, have fun and raise them. There is actually a deep history of eating pigeons, especially at a young age. Eating squab has been around in Europe for generations. But, here is a distinct hunting guide for you to find those pigeons (where you aren’t shooting wildly on the streets).

Now, on to the big birds known as Ratites. It includes the ostrich, emu, and rhea. The USDA has a guide to these fine tasting animals. These animals have become common alternatives when it comes to eating meat. A nice ostrich steak or Emu pate can be quite delicious. And the meat is becoming easily obtainable. If you have a farmer’s market nearby you might be in luck with an Emu farmer or two. Emu has many values in addition to meat like the oils, feathers, and skin they produce. So maybe you could even raise them yourself. As for Rhea, one Microbiologist is convinced of it’s magical powers that it has surpassed chicken soup in their mind.

Finally, the penguin. If you’re living in Antarctica I can accept you eating the penguin. There is a site out there taking a mocking approach with the concept of eating and hunting penguins. Penguin meat is a delicacy in some lands, but it’s also not as common as it used to be. Even Antarctic menus have removed penguin meat (and seal brain). Luckily for my sanity and yours, I could not find any true Penguin meat recipes.

So for now, they can go on happily living, but beware there might be one under your car.