International Crane
Foundation for Kids

Cranes and People

Owls in Mythology
and Culture

Great Backyard
Bird Count for Kids



Home Birds & People Birds as Food
Wild Turkey (decoys)

Wild Turkey – decoys
(Courtesy NEBRASKAland Magazine/NGPC)

Since prehistoric times, birds have been food for inspiration – but they've also been just plain food for human beings.

Fried chicken, roasted turkey, even ostrich steaks are some of the recipes you can find in today's cookbooks.

Bird eggs, bird gizzards, bird feet – any part of a bird can wind up on someone's menu. Even its nest can wind up in the soup pot!

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when human beings first viewed birds as a food source. Archaeological evidence suggests cave-dwelling humans may have raided nests for eggs. (It was probably easier than trying to catch mature birds, since the eggs couldn't fly off.)

Later, as the human brain developed, hunting techniques improved. Humans devised traps as well as weapons for taking their prey. One strategy for catching birds was to put sticky lime mixed with seeds on the branches of a bush. When birds landed on the bush, they became stuck in the lime and were easily netted.

The greatest advancement in the hunting of birds was the invention of the gun. But hunting wasn't the only way to get bird meat and eggs. Humans learned to raise birds such as chickens and geese, first to feed their own families and eventually to sell as food in the market place.

The wild birds might have breathed a little easier as poultry products became widely available and hunting was no longer a necessity for many humans. But hunting never completely died out.

Today, hunters pay great amounts of money to shoot game birds such as quail, pheasant, geese, and turkey. Humans continue to play their part as predators, and birds continue to show up on the breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables.


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