(Recipe #12, page 149)

Only the breast of a heron is edible; it is delicious, but the rest of the flesh is oily. Sprinkle the necessary amount of salt on the breast, wrap it in slices of good pork fat, place it in a generous amount of hot butter, and cook it over moderate heat until tender and lightly browned, basting frequently and after a while adding a cup of cream. Make gravy as in cooking rabbit.

Translated by David Green.

Ed.Note: Please be sure to read the comment posted by Babsje below. What was legal in the 19th century is not legal in the 21st, so please do NOT try this recipe with heron!


4 thoughts on “Heron

  1. While I find your rare recipe concept interesting, I would ask that you remove this Heron recipe, because in the US, herons are federally protected birds, and it is illegal to possess or kill them.

    I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I am pasting information and links here for consciousness-raising and education to protect the birds.

    The Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects many herons, including and not limited to these:

    HERON, Gray, Ardea cinerea
    Great Blue, Ardea herodias
    Green, Butorides virescens
    [Green-backed (see Green)]
    Little Blue, Egretta caerulea
    [Pacific Reef (see REEF-EGRET, Pacific)]
    Tricolored, Egretta tricolor

    For the full list, please see:http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/regulationspolicies/mbta/mbtandx.html#alpha1


    “… it shall be unlawful at any time, by any means or in any manner, to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, export, import, cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or export, any migratory bird, any part, nest, or egg of any such bird, or any product, whether or not manufactured, which consists, or is composed in whole or part, of any such bird or any part, nest, or egg thereof…”

    There are significant fines associated with violating the above paragraph, ranging from $500 up to $200,000. (The $200,000 level of fine involves using bait to capture a heron: “… unlawful to place or direct the placement of bait on or adjacent to an area for the purpose of taking or attempting to take migratory game birds, and makes these violations punishable under title 18 United States Code, (with fines up to $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for organizations), imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both.” From http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/MIGTREA.HTML )

    Since it is necessary to posess and kill a heron in order to use this recipe for cooking a heron that you have posted, someone would be in violation of the federal law.

    Thanks in advance for your consideration of removing this recipe for cooking herons.

    • Babsje, thank you very much for posting the above information. We very much share your sensitivity towards laws protecting endangered species of any kind.

      We will leave the recipe up, with your good comments highlighted in the post itself. This was part of life in the 19th century, and we’re trying to use that *history* to spark discussion about subsequent events. (We also do not condone the eating of sparrows, even though they’re not federally protected, although Davidis provides a recipe for that as well..)

      • Hi Denise – Thank you for getting back to me, I feel relieved. It’s fine with me if you edit my comments so they sound less strident, but one thing I noticed is that elsewhere on your site, there’s a paragraph that encourages the readers to test/try out the various recipes in the cookbook. Will you please add a note on that page letting people know that some of the recipes, eg herons and sparrows, should not be attempted, and that they are included for historical purposes only? I’m actually first-generation German-American, myself, and your effort is fascinating. Kind regards, Babsje

  2. Babsje, I did not “hear” your comments as strident and was thankful that you brought this to our attention. I did change the language in the “About” section so it’s clear that no one should try this recipe or others like it.

    Thanks again for your valuable input.

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