A Bird's Guide to Ethical Eating

Blue Jay wearing a fedora and chomping down on a berry

By Alan Bluefeather, Food Reporter. 

One of the things I often ask myself as an environmentally-conscious Brooklyn bird is: how can I eat more sustainably? One way you can have a fresh and flavorful meal while also helping the environment is to get more invasive insects into your diet. You know what I’m talking about: those pesky species that take over our trees, eating leaves and boring holes in tree trunks until the trees get weak and sick. By chowing down on these pests, we can have a good meal AND help our beloved trees. Here’s a guide to help you identify some of these tasty dishes: 

Asian Longhorned Beetle

Asian Longhorned Beetle

These little pests can kill 30% of our trees! Who do they think they are? Luckily for us birds, they’re also juicy and crunchy. Best suited for all you woodpeckers out there. 

Gypsy Moth

Gypsy Moth Caterpillar

Gypsy moths have been rising in parts of New York state the last couple years. So they might eventually be chewing through the leaves on our favorite trees. You bigger birds who don’t mind tiny hairs in your throat can eat them while they’re in their tasty and squishy caterpillar stage. For the smaller chickadees who find them too hairy: give their eggs a try.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

The larvae of these tree-killers like to eat the inside of tree bark and cut off a tree’s nutrients. They were spotted in Prospect Park a few years ago—some nerve they have. They might be hard to find because their shiny metallic coloring makes them blend in well. But look out for their tell-tale “D” shaped exit holes in the bark of Ash trees.


Illustrations: © Fiona Carswell, 2021.