how to eat a bird

Some people eat birds because they like to hunt them, others hunt birds because they like to eat them. I’d be in the latter category. I love hunting, shooting, blinds, decoys, bird guns, gun dogs, all of it—but if I didn’t like the taste of gamebirds, I would hunt something else, or take up golf or bowling.

While I haven’t shot every bird in North America, I’ve killed a bunch and eaten a few more, including some I wish I hadn’t (crow and ruddy duck come to mind). Here are my favorites in a highly subjective list that I reserve the right to change. Your own list may vary, both due to personal preference and because flavor varies according to local diet. For instance, there is a difference in taste between the average, toothsome creek-dwelling wood duck and the shad-eating reservoir wood duck I tried to eat many years ago. That’s an extreme example (I have never had another bad wood duck, and cornfield woodies are among the best), but waterfowl especially seem to vary according geography and diet. Upland birds seem to vary less, although there is a big difference between a preserve bird that smells like chicken feed and the real, wild thing.

10. Bluewing and Greenwing Teal

Teal are among the best eating ducks of all. If only they weren’t so tiny they would rank higher. Cinnamon teal, I’m told, are not so good to eat.

Recipe Idea for Teal: Teal in a Jar

Although they can be a little chewier and coarser than other upland birds, pheasants are the birds I hunt the most and I enjoy eating them the most, so I want to rank them higher than ninth. But I have already picked and roasted hundreds of them, and I intend to pick and roast many more. Sometimes when a bird eats too many pellets, I’ll cook the breast in the oil or make soup, which tastes even better.

Recipe Idea for Pheasant: Beer Can Rooster

how to eat a bird

Every mourning dove carries two succulent morsels of breast meat that resemble steak. It is up to you to decide whether you think that the need to shoot a lot of doves in order to prepare a meal is a defect or a characteristic of these birds. I no longer make poppers because they take away from the flavor of the pure dove goodness and taste more like bacon than anything else. In addition, I get full quickly from poppers when I should be eating dove instead.

My preference is for dove breasts that are quickly seared in a skillet or that are skewered with onion, pepper, mushrooms, and small tomatoes and quickly grilled.

Recipe Idea for Doves: Grilled Dove Pizza

After shooting all four subspecies, I have to say that they were all very good. For those who don’t think they enjoy wild game, turkey is a great “gateway” bird because it tastes better and richer than domestic turkey. I enjoy the legs and thighs slow cooked, as well as the fried, floured, and pounded breasts. It’s worth the trouble to pick and roast a fall poult or hen.

Recipe Idea for Wild Turkey: Corned Wild Turkey Breast

Wood ducks are quite difficult to beat on the table once they begin striking the acorns or the cornfields.

Try this recipe for Wood Ducks: Rutabaga, Date, and Duck Pot Pie.

A bird’s bill’s dimensions, form, and structure can reveal a lot about what it eats.

Celebrate Urban Birds works to co-create community science initiatives that are equity-based, inclusive, and bilingual in order to benefit communities that have historically been marginalized or excluded from citizen science, conservation, and birding. Through fair knowledge exchange, improved accessibility, highlighting underrepresented perspectives and experiences, and consciously promoting community ownership and scientific research leadership, the project aims to advance better science. The project has co-developed procedures to co-design, test, and execute scientific research and programming with a focus on racial equity alongside participating communities.

It depends on the bird. They have evolved to consume a wide variety of foods at various heights and locations, which helps them avoid competing for the same food sources.


What parts of a bird can you eat?

Both the gizzard and the heart are just another form of muscle—with different textures than the breasts and legs—while the liver is meat of a different flavor. All are edible and all have their place in a hunter’s culinary repertoire.

Are wild birds safe to eat?

As long as you pluck and cook them, you can eat any birds you can lay your hands on. Pigeons, crows, and seagulls are all edible. Catching them can be difficult, but if you are fortunate enough to have a gun you should have an easy time getting a few birds, and you might even be able to pull it off with a net.

Can you eat bird meat?

The vast majority of birds are completely edible. Only 2 species of Bird are poisonous, and then only due to their diet of poisonous insects. Raised in captivity, they are perfectly safe to eat. Crows, pigeons, peacocks, seagulls, emu, mynah, even parrots are edible.

How do you prepare birds for eating?

Using a clean knife, make a small lateral incision on the underside of the breast and then pull the skin and feathers off the carcass. From the top side, cut down both sides of the back, starting near the head and cutting through to the last rib.