Any wild bird suitable for food, including the larger species (such as wild turkey and goose), medium-size birds (including pheasant and wild duck) and smaller game birds (such as the coot, dove, grouse, hazel hen, lark, mud hen, partridge, pigeon, plover, quail, rail, snipe, thrush and woodcock). Except for the few raised on game farms (which are usually expensive), game birds are not readily available. Those that are found in markets are usually of good quality. Most game birds are sold frozen; some of the smaller birds are canned. Factors affecting quality include the age of the bird and the manner in which it was treated after it was killed. Quality birds should have no off odor; the skin should be fresh-looking, not dull or dry. Young birds are best and can be identified by their pliable breastbone, feet and legs; their claws will be sharp. Wild birds are much leaner than the domesticated variety. Because of a lack of natural fatparticularly in younger birdsthey must be basted, barded or larded
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.