Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The Edibility of Birds


IN the autumn of 1941 I happened to be preparing some bird-skins at Beni Suef, Middle Egypt, when a casual observation led to what has proved a somewhat fruitful and little-explored line of inquiry. A palm dove (Streptopelia senegalensis) and a pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) had been skinned and the carcases thrown aside. Hornets were very plentiful in the garden where I was working and soon collected on the meat; but they were seen to concentrate their visits on one carcase, leaving the other almost neglected. Closer inspection showed that it was the dove that was receiving their attentions:with the kingfisher they would have little to do.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. Cott, H. B., "Adaptive Coloration in Animals" (London, 1940), (a) 174–186, 271–307; (b) 264–268.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Selby, P. J., "Illustrated British Ornithology" (Edinburgh, 1833), 1 (a) 274, (b) 124, (c) 445.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Wilson, A., and Bonaparte, P. C. L., "American Ornithology" (London, 1832), 1, 312.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Baker, E. C. S., "Indian Pigeons and Doves" (London, 1913), 41.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Horsbrugh, B., "The Game Birds and Water Fowl of South Africa" (London, 1912), 108.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Quelch, J. J., in Chubb, C, "The Birds of British Guiana" (London, 1916), 1, 106.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Herbert, H. W., "American Game in its Seasons" (New York, 1853), 167.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  8. Simon, A. L., "A Concise Encyclopaedia of Gastronomy. VI, Birds" (1944), 81.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Blandford, W. T., "The Fauna of British India. Birds, 4" (1898), 205.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Stark, A., and Sclater, W. L., "The Birds of South Africa" (London, 1906), 4, (a) 331; (b) 304.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Anderson, C. J., "Lake Ngami" (London, 1856), 131.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Baker, E. C. S., "The Game Birds of India., Burma and Ceylon" (London, 1921), 215.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Finn, F., "Indian Sporting Birds" (London, 1915), (a) 134; (b) 110.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  14. Yarrell, W., "A Historylof British Birds" (1843), 3, 143.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Bannerman, D. A., "The Birds of Tropical West Africa" (1931), 2, 204.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Information supplied by Mr. B. Vesey-Fitzgerald.

  17. Hill, in Gosse, P. H., "The Birds of Jamaica" (London, 1847), 368.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Roosevelt, R. B., "The Game Birds of the Coasts and Lakes of the Northern States of America" (1866), 203.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Ali, Sálim, "The Book of Indian Birds" (Bombay, 1941), 304.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

COTT, H. The Edibility of Birds. Nature 156, 736–737 (1945).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing