Food & Drink

Striking Photos Of What Your Bird Looks Like Before You Eat It

Whether it's a turkey sandwich or turkey on the Thanksgiving table, roast chicken for dinner or chicken wings at your Super Bowl party, poultry is a huge part of the American diet. Americans are eating about 60 pounds of poultry per person each year, and chicken has surpassed beef in popularity in recent years. While Americans are consuming less beef and pork, chicken and turkey are on the rise.

With poultry playing such a significant role in our lives, we wanted to take a look at what our food looks like before it hits our tables. Unlike some of the scarier-looking seafood we looked at recently, the birds that typically end up in our recipes are really quite beautiful.

Here are eight kinds of poultry you've probably eaten or at least heard of, and what they look like before they get to your plate.

This is chicken and THIS is a chicken.
Food52/Anthony Lee via Getty Images
Chicken has become an important staple in Americans' diets in the last few decades. Today Americans are eating more chicken than beef for the first time in 100 years.
This is squab and THIS is a squab.
Richard Jung via Getty Images/Les Stocker via Getty Images
Squab is a young, domesticated pigeon. Squabs are usually eaten at about four weeks of age and are known for a rich, gamey flavor.
This is turkey and THIS is a domestic turkey.
A Beautiful Mess/AP
We typically eat domestic turkeys, like the Butterballs you hear a lot about at Thanksgiving. Americans ate about 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving day in 2012. Through breeding, modern domestic turkeys differ from wild ones. They're heavier, can not fly and are poor runners.
This is turkey and THIS is a wild turkey.
Grace Clementine via Getty Images/Kristian Bell via Getty Images
Wild turkeys look very different than the Butterballs we typically consume. Once very common in North America, the species became endangered in the early 1900s. Through conservation efforts, the wild turkey population grew over the century and there are now an estimated seven million wild turkeys across 49 states. You can only eat wild turkey by hunting it, and turkey hunting laws vary by state.
This is duck and THIS is a duck.
Simply Recipes/© Santiago Urquijo via Getty Images
Duck has the most fat per square inch of any other kind of fowl, which makes it one of the tastiest. We're big fans of duck and duck fat here at HuffPost Taste. Pekin duck is the most common commercial duck breed in the U.S.
This is quail and THIS is a quail.
Plush Studios via Getty Images/Grant Reaburn via Getty Images
Quail refers to an order of mid-sized birds called Galliformes. The birds have dark, gamey meat.
This is goose and THIS is a goose.
Daniela Duncan via Getty Images
Goose, like duck, is a fatty bird. Its meat is dark and lean, and the fat is great for rendering and using later.
This is guinea fowl and THIS is a guinea fowl.
Food52/Volanthevist via Getty Images
Guinea fowl has dark, juicy meat. It is popular in Canada and Britain and is "just as easy to roast as chicken."
This is pheasant and THIS is a pheasant.
Lauri Patterson via Getty Images/David Tipling via Getty Images
Pheasant is a well-known bird that is popular to hunt. It has lean meat that is said to have a gamey flavor.

Want to read more from HuffPost Taste? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Top Chicken Cooking Mistakes