How to Eat Starlings & English Sparrows

Why not join the latest trend in food -- the local food movement. It doesn't get much more local than eating the common birds right outside your door. Starlings and house (English) sparrows are commonly found wherever people are, be that in city or in country, all over the United States as well as Europe. They are both invasive species in America, having been introduced from Europe and done so well they've displaced native birds. While they won't compete with your butcher's turkey for meatiness, eating them can be an enjoyable treat.

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Things You'll Need

  • Small sharp knife

Identification and killing

  • Make sure the bird you're thinking about eating is indeed a common house sparrow or starling. To get a good idea of what they look like, try doing a Google image search for "sparrow" or "starling." Male house sparrows have brown backs and lighter bellies, and females are brown all over. Starlings look black from a distance, and up close are iridescent in summer and covered in white spots in winter. It's important to have a positive identification because many small songbirds look alike and can be confused. House sparrows and starlings are common, invasive birds, but many other species of songbird are endangered and should not be eaten under any circumstances.

  • Kill the bird quickly and humanely. Usually this will mean shooting it and immediately making sure that it is completely dead, killing it if it's not. Again, if shooting, take care not to hit any other songbirds.

  • Chill bird immediately, unless you are going to butcher it right away. Birds have high body temperatures that provide fertile breeding grounds for bacteria if not kept at low temperatures.

Cleaning and butchering

  • Remove the breast. Generally, these birds are so small that the breast is the only thing worth saving. Holding the bird belly-up, insert the point of the knife at the base of the body and cut away the breast, letting the ribs and backbone guide you. Discard the rest of the bird.

  • Peel the skin off the breast.

  • Clean breast meat in running water.

  • Prepare as you would any other poultry. Be sure to cook thoroughly at high temperatures.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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