Anyone who has done any research into historic foods knows that many birds have been eaten at one time or another, whether currently so or not. In Aug. 1916, Popular Mechanics introduced a trap for the English sparrow which the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture called, “noisy, quarrelsome, filthy, and destructive”.
The funnels built into the trap were large enough for the sparrow to go through and obtain whatever bait was inside, but not large enough for him to retreat through. The author stated his family had caught 729 sparrows in 60 days, and the Dept. of Agriculture supported such destruction. What, pray tell, did they do with the birds?
There is no reason why sparrows should not be utilized for food, as they have been in the Old World for centuries. Their flesh is palatable, and though their bodies are small, their number fully compensates for their lack of size. Birds that have been trapped have been kept in large out-door cages, sheltered from storms and cold winds, until they are wanted for the table. It is unprofitable to keep them long, as the quantity of grain or other food they require daily amounts to more than half their own weight. A variety of food is necessary to keep them in good condition. Bread, oats, wheat, bran and corn-meal mush, lettuce, cabbage, and tender shoots of sprouting grain are some of the things they relish. Some time ago ex-Governor Cox of Ohio gave a banquet to some of his friends, when the piece de resistance for the occasion was a sparrow-pie. Until after the banquet the guests were under the impression they were eating a pie made of squabs or reed-birds.
English sparrows were introduced in the U.S. in 1851 and 52 to eat canker-worms that were destroying trees in New York, and quickly spread like kudzu, destroying tender buds on beneficial plants and killing song birds and their young. It is ironic that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture proposed the idea of eating the sparrows to reduce their numbers when the birds were brought here to reduce the number of pests in our cities by eating them. ©