Why birds? For the eggs, of course! No other animal provides such a valuable and versatile benefit.
Eggs can be used in cooking to add volume when whipped (soufflés, sponge cakes, marshmallows), as a thickener (custards, sauces), as a binding agent (to adhere bread crumbs, to hold meatloaf or crab cakes together), as an emulsifier (in mayonnaise, salad dressings, Hollandaise sauce), as a clarifier (soups, coffee), as a crystallization retardant (candy, frosting), as a glaze (breads, cookies), and as a garnish (hard boiled, deviled). For eating, eggs can be prepared in a variety of ways including fresh (raw, egg nog), fried (sunny side up, over easy, over hard, basted, steam basted, omelet), scrambled (breakfast burrito), poached (egg drop soup), hard boiled (egg salad), deviled, and baked (quiche, frittata). Eggs are considered the perfect protein source, and are classified with meat in the protein food group because they contain 18 amino acids, nine of which are essential to the daily needs of the human body.
Not only do eggs have great nutritional value, but they also have a wide variety of other uses, such as:
Pet Dander – Add a few eggs (in any form, but raw is best) to your pet’s diet each week to reduce dander and give their coat a more radiant shine.
Hair Volumizer – Apply a beaten mixture of egg whites and olive oil to your hair for 20 minutes, then rinse. Great to use on your pet’s coats also.
Skin Treatment – Wisk egg whites with a bit of water and apply to treat wrinkles, puffiness, and for pore reduction. Do the same with egg yolks for use as a moisturizer.
Glue Replacement – Use egg whites on your next construction paper project. Not as durable as Elmer’s, but it will work in a pinch.
Leather Cleaner – Rub eggs whites into treated leather products (not for use on raw leather) and wipe off with damp cloth. Cleans, protects, and leaves a shine.
Artist’s Canvas – Decorate egg shells for a festive centerpiece or as a tree ornament.
Bug Deterrent – Sprinkle eggshells in the garden to deter slugs, snails, and cutworms.
Deer Deterrent – Use raw egg near your coveted plants to repel deer.
Fertilizer – Solanaceous garden plants like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes enjoy the calcium and minerals in the water leftover from hard-boiling eggs.
Calcium Supplement – Bake empty eggshells at 350ºF for 20 minutes, cool, crush, feed to your livestock and poultry as a calcium supplement. Or, use a coffee grinder to turn crushed shells into a powder and add to your morning smoothie or your pet’s food dish.
Mellow Coffee – Add crushed eggshells to grounds before brewing for less bitterness.
Hysterical Family Picnic Games
Egg Toss – Toss a raw egg back and forth between two people, increasing the distance every other toss. Loser gets to hose off the mess.
Egg Race – Each contestant places a raw egg on a spoon and tries to complete the course without dropping their egg. Elbowing is encouraged.
Double Egg Roll Race – Each contestant holds a raw egg against their chest with their chin and rolls another raw egg through obstacle course. Winner is the first to cross the finish line with both eggs intact. Losers hose off the mess.
Eggs are not the only reason that we choose to keep birds. It is easier to raise poultry on a small parcel of land than it is for most of the larger livestock. Poultry do not require much space to be comfortable, safe, and to thrive. For example, a chicken only needs 3-4 ft2 for housing, 10 ft2 for exercise, and do not need any access to pasture. This means that an expensive and expansive electric fence is not required. They do, however, need the exercise and housing areas to be secure from predation, which takes time, requires monitoring, and has some expense.
Birds have unique personalities and behaviors that make them fun to spend time with. The larger birds remember who they see frequently, especially those bringing treats. Their dietary range is vast, making it fun to give them nearly everything that would otherwise go down the garbage disposal. The smaller birds have shorter memories, but know a treat when they see it. I always get a chuckle seeing the quail jump up and down at a fevered pace when I deliver the days’ sunflower sprouts. Also, no matter how old the quail are, when I walk into the coop the cockerels always ensure each of his hens are serviced before their perceived impending doom.