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Do any cultures eat owl?

While doing some research recently I ran across this bit of folklore: if a woman feeds her husband roasted owl, he will become completely subservient to her every wish. Words to this effect appear on hundreds of folk wisdom web sites although none has any information about the source. So my question is, who eats owl? I've never heard of it -- do people hunt owl for meat? Also, have any of you heard that folklore indepently of my bringing it up just now?

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  1. Do people eat any raptors? All of the recipes for game birds that I can think of (Western cuisine -- I have no idea about Asia on this)serve up birds that eat veggies or insects, not other birds or rodents.

    1. i believe in some parts of Alaska owl is eaten.

      11 Replies
      1. re: mabziegurl

        You can probably eat just about any dead animal you want to, given the opportunity. We have seen frozen armadillo and fox in the meat cases of Asian groceries in the San Gabriel Valley of LA County, and have wondered just who on earth would willingly choose to eat these things. I can imagine some crazed Chinese guy thinking that by eating a fox he would become wily and wise, but an armadillo? Would that make you more willing to accept being run over by a pickup truck? The mind boggles...

        1. re: Will Owen

          Perhaps some crazed Chinese might find what you eat disgusting. You evidently didn't read the thread on wierdest things people have eaten.

          1. re: chocolatetartguy

            As a "crazed Chinese," (LOL) I have to respond to this. Every weekend, my mom would have a fish, turtle, crab, pigeon, or something crawling, swimming, or flapping in our kitchen. I grew up on duck's tongues, fish eyes, and soy sauce in my morning oatmeal (an American version of jook). Imagine my horror when I left for college and discovered that "white people" ate their oatmeal with sugar! jam! honey! And then there were the horrors of Wonder bread, Salisbury steak, chipped beef, boiled gray string beans, and other strange, exotic inedibles. LOL!

            1. re: Claudette

              You go sister. I couldn't believe it when I went over to a friends house and she was eating her white rice with cinnamon, sugar and milk, ewww!

                1. re: justagthing

                  its so much better with butter instead of milk, but thats another thread.

            2. re: Will Owen

              When one SF Chinatown market had Armadillo on sale, the sign (in Chinese) said "Tastes just like turtle." Turtle is believed to be a cure for, er, erectile dysfunction, and don't ask how I know that.

              1. re: Gary Soup

                African lunch wagons all over Chicago sell bull's penis. It's all relative. Garden slugs are solid meat and should probably be good vinaigrette on a bed of lettuce but I've never heard of people eating them, and yet slugs with shells, eg snails, are a delicacy.

              2. re: Will Owen

                what did people eat before cattle farms, chicken farms, etc? anything they can catch basically... so armadillo and fox is that really that far fetched? there's meat on them bones...

                1. re: Will Owen

                  I know that Native Americans in Oklahoma/Texas have historically eaten armadillo (often in a stew-like dish) and maybe others have elsewhere.

              3. IMO, eating an owl is like eating a bald eagle. It's just something you shouldn't do.

                17 Replies
                  1. re: navygirl7

                    Twinkies are gross! If owl is what you have to eat ,owl is what's for dinner.

                    1. re: navygirl7

                      But what makes it gross? We kill and pluck chickens and eat the meat, so what makes and owl gross?

                      1. re: Ida Red

                        They eat rats. Do you want to eat something that eats rats?

                        1. re: rworange

                          They eat lots of things that I wouldn't like in my food chain. Here's a partial list of various owl's diets.

                          Ants , armadillos, bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, caterpillars, centipedes, cicadas , chipmunks, crayfish, crickets, earthworms, fish, flies, flying squirrels, frogs, grasshoppers, hares, lemmings, lizards, mice, millipedes, moles, moths, muskrats, opossums, pocket gophers, porcupines, prairie dogs, rabbits, raccoons, rats, roaches, roaches, scorpions, shrews, skunks, snakes, spiders, squirrels, toads, turtles, voles, weasels, and woodchucks.

                          1. re: JMF

                            mmm RABBIT taste like chicken, lol!

                          2. re: rworange

                            Don't even think about asking what crabs eat.


                            1. re: rworange

                              Yeah, I thought about the diet of lobsters and crabs ... but the deal is, it is out of site unless you scuba dive.

                              With an owl ... vulture ... etc ... people see them chowing down on unsavory meals.

                              1. re: rworange

                                who wants to eat fish? They eat worms!

                                1. re: rworange

                                  umm, consider what goes into cattle and chicken feed before you start dissing rats. I'm reading a book that says that poultry droppings is a component in cattle feed. And of course, by now we have all heard about how mad cow started by people deciding to put sheep and cow carcasses into cattle feed [turning traditionally vegetarian animals into cannibals]. So if you eat chicken and you eat cows. . . .

                                  We don't eat owls because its not in our culture and the ratio of bone to meat is probably pretty thin. And maybe they don't taste the best.

                                  1. re: jenn

                                    Fast Food Nation, turned my eyes around.

                                  2. re: rworange

                                    My Vietnamese friend says that at the end of the rice harvest in the Mekong delta, folks eat (I think deep-fried) the rice-fatten rats. She says that she could never get to eating rat, though....

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      lol Actually, rats aren't that filthy. They're quite clean for a rodent. I would be half curious to try nutria rat. Wonder if it tastes any good. In asking if a culture eats a certain animal too, a person has to keep in mind, not all animals taste so good. For a very long time people didn't eat caftish even if they were quite readily available because they were considered trash fish because they lived on the bottom and rooted around in river detritus. It took a cajun to figure out they and tilapia were very tasty.

                                      1. re: NecrochildK

                                        not everyone thinks catfish and tilapia are very tasty, that's for sure!

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          Alkapal, re your catfish prejudice: Buy catfish filet (it's farmed nowadays, not filthy). Roll it in melted butter then in bread crumbs and bake it in a 450* oven. It's a sweet, non-fishy tasting fish that will appeal to fish-haters. So sweet and bland that you need to serve it with maybe a zingy fresh salsa and some black beans and rice a la Cuban, or a sweet-and-sour pineapple sauce and rice a la Asian.

                                      2. re: rworange

                                        snakes eat rats and people eat snakes

                                    2. re: navygirl7

                                      I had a friend of mine that wasn't very adventurous when it came to food. One day I had mentioned something about a duck dish and she said that she didn't like duck. I asked her if she had ever tried it and she said no. I thought that was ridiculous....

                                  3. Up until WWII Americans ate many more types and parts of animals than we do today. We are only starting the journey back to some of our earlier dining customs.

                                    John Hodgman in his May 12, 2004 article, Extreme eating, in New York Magazine (see link below) wrote that Mary Land instructs in her 1954 book, Louisiana Cookery, that owls are to be fricasséed.

                                    I figure that if it's in a 1954 cookbook then it must have been a somewhat common practice. At least on the level of eating game like squirrels and such.

                                    Personally I am against eating raptors for a variety of reasons.


                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: JMF

                                      By the way here is the exact Owl recipe from Louisiana Cookery, circa 1954.

                                      "Pick, clean, and marinate in vinegar and oil overnight. Parboil, then dust with flour, and fricasse until done, adding water or marinade."

                                      This recipe was just after a recipe for crows and a few before a recipe for porpoise.

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        A cookbook devoted to seal recipes was just released in Sweden.

                                        1. re: JMF

                                          I've had pickled seal. It's fantastic.


                                        2. re: JMF

                                          porpoise, now that *is* flipper! boy some would have those cookbook writers strung up these days.

                                          (and PETA gets angry about a fly getting swatted!).

                                      2. If it was commercially farmed, I would eat owl (or any other kind of raptor, incl. eagles, hawks, etc.).

                                        But I think the reason owls aren't more popular is because they don't have very much meat on them bones ... and what meat there is probably very tough and sinewy.

                                        Now, pigeons I would do any day of the week ...

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Gotta add my 2 cents on pigeons. They are not native to the US and where brought over as a food item. See what happens when you let your food wander!

                                          1. re: justagthing

                                            I was so excited going to Egypt for the opportunity to try pigeon - and that was just not a meal I'd ever seek to repeat. It could easily have been where we were eating them, but we had them grilled and fried. And it was a bit of a toss up which one was less appetizing.

                                            I think at the end of the day, it was mostly a case of the meat to skin/bone ratio just did not end up making it feel like a meal that was worth it.

                                        2. I haven't heard about owl per se but in shamanistic cultures it's common that you eat parts of an animal whose properties you wish to own. There might also exist strong taboos towards certain foods. At a Nobel Dinner in 1994, blood dove was served. Since one of the laureates was japanese a large number of guests were japanese. The Japanese guests were horrified when the dove was served and asked if it was customary to eat peace symbols?

                                          I've eaten snake and dog and a host of other animals around the world. The only thing I've refused is various raw variations of birds. Other cooked birds I have basically just smiled and picked up a leg, with or without feet remaining so god knows what I've been chewing ;) but I wouldn't be surprised if raptors were included.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: PicklingJessica

                                            Now see, this is where I part ways with what some call "true chowhounders". There are certain things that I just wont eat. For instance, there is no way ever that I will willingly eat dog. Won't happen. My appetite for trying new foods and customs is dictated by my personal moral convictions. Yes there are those that would say I am not a real chowhounder. However, in my travels I have found that I am able to enjoy MOST of the food of other cultures without compromising my personal value system.

                                            1. re: EAH

                                              I don't think anyone is telling you to go against your values. (I certainly won't.) But I think the issue at hand is where those values come from - why is it okay to eat one kind of bird but not another? etc.

                                          2. I'm thinkin' that perhaps that the flavour of meat of an animal that is carnivorous (eating other meat, not insects) is not that great.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. Owls along with other raptors and, in fact, most birds other than designated game birds, are protected under the International Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It's illegal to kill, harm, disrupt nests or take eggs of any birds protected under the act. It might have been eaten in the past, but don't look for it on restaurant menus any time soon.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: judybird

                                                Thank you judybird. FINALLY a reply I wanted to see.

                                                1. The collision of this thread with the State Fair Foods thread:


                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: MSPD

                                                    Splendid post!!!!Thanks for the laugh!

                                                    1. I think the prohibition of owls as sustenance (at least for Judeo-Christian cultures) goes back to Biblical times; see Leviticus 11:13. The list of "detestable" birds includes eagles, vultures, ravens, storks, and curiously (or should I say erroneously), the bat. And of course, owls.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: marachino

                                                        Islam forbids eating owls too.

                                                        My theory why most people don't eat owl

                                                        1. They eat rats ... rats that even cats won't eat
                                                        2. They stay up all night and sleep during the day

                                                        1. How good can somthing that eats rats taste? Also, if you have a bird that is doing pest control ... well, would you rather have to hunt rat? Isn't it easier in the long run to let the owls do the hunting and get rid of the rats?

                                                        2. They are 'night owls'. That's a little creepy if you think about it ... what is up all night? ... owls, vampires/bats, ghosts and witches (not the good/white type ... apoligies to Glenda).

                                                        There's a lot of superstition about owls with most cultures associating them with evil and witchcraft. The bird probably doesn't taste good and on top of that you are probably eating something that has connections to the underworld. That can't be good.

                                                        Don't know how much owls hide during the day, but trying to catch something in the dark can't be easy.

                                                        Here's a list of the superstitions associated with owls ... by country.


                                                        Who eats owls ... here's a link from the Raptor Society ... if they don't know, who does?


                                                        To sum up who eats owls ... mainly for medicinal reasons ... it almost makes you appreciate pharmecutical companies

                                                        - Europeans ... mediaeval Europeans - charred, dried & ground owl eyeballs (for eyesight & prevent madness) ... owl eggs (for alcoholics) ... owl broth for children ... so they wouldn't need to eat owl eggs when they grew up and for whooping cough

                                                        - The Swiss (16th century) owl brains blended with olive oil
                                                        (for earaches


                                                        - The Romans - Owl soup (epilectic fits)

                                                        - Indians (from India) - owl fat from owl soup (for childern to prevent misfortune ... eating owl fat seems unfortuante to me) ...owl broth & pickled owl (gout) ... gelled owl soup (rheumatism) ... stewed owls eyeballs and brains (labor pains ... I guess eating owl brains would distract me too)

                                                        - Chinese ... owl soup ... various medicial purposes

                                                        - Peruvians - boiled Owl is said to be a strong medicine.

                                                        I can't believe I was lured into this discussion. Not too wise, eh. I used to eat Owl Potato chips ... does that count?

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          Wow--I just said I thought it was gross....and look at this response chain.

                                                          1. re: navygirl7

                                                            Well, SOMEONE had to have the experience to coin the expression "tougher than boiled owl"

                                                      2. Here in the Pacific Northwest the decline of the spotted owl caused the closure of large swaths of forest to logging, which put many loggers and mill workers out of work. It was pretty common in small logging towns to see a pick up truck with a bumper sticker reading "I like spotted owls deep fried"

                                                        1. Further to what rworange posted about chicken feed:

                                                          I used to raise chickens when I lived in Malaysia. These were organic, free-range chickens - yard birds, in other words, who roamed around the yard (and neighboring areas) except when asleep in their coops. I saw these chickens eat big cockroaches, worms, snot that I spat out, and even a baby's crap. Are you still going to eat chicken? Lemme tell you, Malaysian village chickens are a damn sight better than anything sold by Purdue!

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Pan

                                                            I've eaten rooster. The meat is darker than chicken, and tougher. Don't have anybody tell you it tastes like chicken, because it doesn't. When you eat chicken outside the US, it tastes so much better. What Perdue sells us is tasteless compared to what other countries have. They experience quality over quantity every day. We don't. I'd probably enjoy a Malaysian chicken. Maybe it tastes like owl. Who knows.

                                                            Perdue: http://www.perdue.com/index.html

                                                            1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                              I ate mostly rooster in Malaysia. After all, you need a bunch of hens for eggs, but not as many roosters for fertilization. Roosters also have bigger crowns and wattles, which are good to eat. By the way, there is NOTHING like truly natural eggs laid by yard birds. The insipid stuff sold in supermarkets in the U.S. is SO DIFFERENT from those eggs that you have to take from underneath the hen in the coop. She complains about it, but you take a few and let her continue to incubate the rest.

                                                            2. re: Pan

                                                              That's pretty much what I was thinking. We raised chickens when I was a kid and I used to work at a summer camp with a large flock of hens. I've seen what they eat, watched a group of hens chase each other and fight over a frog. I have no doubt that chickens would happily eat a rat if given the opportunity, doesn't bother me in the least. Heck, I would probably eat a rat if the need/opportunity presented itself.

                                                              1. re: mpjmph

                                                                I've eaten vulture which eats things a lot more gross than owl's do. Tasted pretty much like turkey. Same with a hawk. One flew right into front grille and broke it's neck.Why waste it, the Dept. of Wildlife not withstanding? I've also had coyote and other than being a little tough, it tasted fine. I'm a shamanic practitioner and the Owl is one of my personal totems so I certainly wouldn't hunt it or harm it intentionally but I might eat one if I had to. I watched a taxidemist stuff a road kill owl before and there is not that much meat on them despite their size.

                                                            3. Hello, sorry to bump a terribly(sp?) old threadt. I recently had a owl injure its self in my garden and I had to assist its passing. The crazy redneck in me said cook it. I myself couldn't bring myself to try it but my girlfriend thought it was nice and tasted like a turkey!? I might be glad I didn't try it after reading the subservient bit though.
                                                              Loads of oregano, tyme and sage simmered with about a 2 1/2# bird.
                                                              Funny we're in the NW, it wasn't spotted though. Aren't spotted owls really small? This critter was quite large and there was a very good meat to bone ratio.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: sc6060

                                                                Sorry to double post, just to clarifiy it certantly was not a spotted owl and I'm sorry my typing/spelling is terrible

                                                              2. This turned out to be a much more interesting thread than I thought it would be! Excellent topic and discussion.

                                                                Nothing of substance to add, but I remember being in a bar in central Wisconsin a few years back and seeing a box of Spotted Owl Helper on the back bar. They also had a box of Humpback Whale Helper and Grey Wolf Helper. far from PC, but pretty funny anyway.

                                                                1. I seem to recall Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies making hoot-owl pie. I wonder if that was an invention of the writers' or if they did some research for the hillbilly references.

                                                                  1. Hey people will eat anything if they have to. Reference: see LDS and seagulls.

                                                                    1. In addition to social mores, religeous convictions, learned and self-imposed moral behaviours, you also have to consider perhaps the most important factor of all. Hunger. Many places that eat what are most commonly considered "bizarre" foods do not, or have not in the past had, the widest options (or commercial mass-production methods, or mass transit shipping, or any one of dozens of things that get food rapidly and cheaply from On-the-hoof point A to in the belly point X) and, anthropologically speaking, the hold-over of eating certain foods has often been found to stem from necessity/habit being retained as a cultural hallmark.

                                                                      As has been said for a long, long time, hunger is the best sauce. Should I become hungry enough, I know for certis I will eat anything that wanders across my path. I already did during several months of survival training in varying climes...

                                                                      1. some animals are more helpful to the safety of man's home, and raptors eat vermin. also, this is why people would not want to eat cats -- they keep the barns clear of vermin that can spread disease and spoil the harvest.

                                                                        1. I’m not “in to” a lot of game foods, but if I was caught between starvation and an owl ... I’d choose the owl, or the rat, vulture or snake. I wouldn’t _not_ eat it just because I thought it was gross. I used to think asparagus was gross, but I eat it now.

                                                                          As a side note, I had never before contemplated eating an owl...I guess I always figured they were hollow or something ;-)

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: cuccubear

                                                                            As I've mentioned before, grilled whole sparrow and rice field rats in Burma are delicious, as is capybara - the world's largest rodent - from the Amazon.

                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                              wow I have never heard of a capybara- I had to google it. much cuter than the rodents I run into in Boston.

                                                                          2. In Alaska they eat horned owls.Now does that sound nasty.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: letseat5087

                                                                              If the "they" means members of the tribes in Alaska, well maybe. They have the legal right to take birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Subject to certain limits. I don't know if they do eat owls or not. Considering that they can get a lot more nutrition from larger game, and probably with less effort, I doubt it is a common food item. Eggs probably, and maybe they can catch the adults on the nest?

                                                                              However, the ordinary, non-tribal Alaskan citizen would be committing a crime that is punishable by both prison time and a hefty fine.

                                                                              1. re: letseat5087

                                                                                letseat5087- That's nonsense, just a troll posting.

                                                                                1. re: beevod

                                                                                  If you were not a credible poster, I'd say this is a troll too.

                                                                                  Having lived the past year in a country where I can't walk a few feet withou tripping over a Mayan, I have never read or heard this. The Mayans are not exactly into change. They are still eating mainly the same food as noted in the Food Time Line which has credible, sourced info

                                                                                  If there is any thing safe it is the parakeet even in the country that eats almost everything that breathes ... and all parts. Most people have them ... as pets.

                                                                                  Also the Mayans seem really smartl. What would posess them to eat a parakeet when there is an abundance of other stuff? No one is going to go through all that work to defeather for what has to be a micro amount of meat. It doesn't even seem worthwhile to toss in the soup pot.

                                                                                  In all I've read in the past year ... in English and Spanish ... parakeet now or in the past has never been mentioned.

                                                                                  However, the French ... that might be different. Here's a recipe for parakeet cassoulet ... it takes 37 of them ... suuuure someone's going to defeather 37 parakeets.

                                                                                  An Enlish lady, Mrs. Beaton, had a recipe for parakeet pie

                                                                                  "Line a pie-dish with the beef, over it place 6 of the paraquets, intersperse slices of egg, parsley and lemon-rind, dredge lightly with flour, and season with salt and pepper.
                                                                                  Cover with the bacon cut into strips, lay the rest of the birds on the top, i"

                                                                                  Serves 12 ... really?

                                                                                  And exactly how does one go about eating a parakeet? What would be the proper etiquette of dealing with the bones?

                                                                                  Then I read the comments and learn that you can buy farm-raised parakeets at Russiona and Halal markets ... "The ones from these butcher shops have much bigger breasts that the ones my mum re-purposed from my uncle's defunct pet-shop those many years ago. Definitely plumper, more like quail. Fryer parakeets are really a different bird"

                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                    Parrots and parakeets were also quite popular amoung the Aboriginal tribes of Australia. In fact the word budgerigar (usually shortened by most people to "budgie") comes from an Aboriginal term that means "good food".

                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                      Some species of parakeets are quite large, parakeets are parrots.

                                                                                  2. I just came across an interesting article called " i eat Road-kill.
                                                                                    Here is an excerpt : " I usually let people know what's going in to a dish, but I did once serve a spaghetti bolognese at a dinner party and forgot to say what was in it. After we finished, there was a row about whether it was venison or pheasant. When I revealed it was two-owl bolognese – part tawny, part barn – a silence fell across the room. For a moment everyone looked quite shocked, then someone broke the silence..."


                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: georigin

                                                                                      "Then someone broke the silence"...by vomiting?

                                                                                      1. a pub in Tromso in the Arctic Circle of Norway had whalemeat lasagne on the menu, one of my friends ate it but I didn't. Talk about a mix of cultures!

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: smartie

                                                                                          On QI Jeremy Clarkson once claimed that he had grated puffin when eating whale.
                                                                                          I think he must of been in Iceland..
                                                                                          (Not sure about whale but I think i'd try puffin)

                                                                                          Not sure if believe him but here's the link, there's also discussion of eating gallahs to expand the bird eating theme.


                                                                                          1. re: Paprikaboy

                                                                                            Well both puffin and whale are fairly common dishes in Scadanavia. Ive never had either, but my dad did have whale once where he was there (we're talking the 1960's or so) Unlike Mr. Clarkson, he claimed it tasted like slightly fishy veal. Maybe it was a different species (after all expecting a beluga to taste just like a fin or minke becuse they are both wales makes about as much sense as expecting a turkey to taste just like a chicken becuse they are both fowls.)