A wildly delicious holiday guide

Woodland caribou (Photo by Steve Forrest CC BY-NC 2.0)

Woodland caribou (Photo by Steve Forrest CC BY-NC 2.0)

December 24, 2019 | by Tina-Louise Rossit

It’s that time of year again: the temperatures are geting colder, but our hearts warm with holiday spirit. It’s the season of hot cocoa, snowflakes and family gatherings. However, for some of us, that also means preparing a grand dinner, and well…that can build up more of a headache than an appetite.

What do you make for this time of year? Same recipes getting old? New recipes too intimidating? Don’t know where to start?

What if we were to ask our wildlife friends? If you’re ready for a taste, here’s your wildly delicious holiday guide, according to Canadian wildlife.

  1. Does your aunt always bring that green bean casserole that nobody likes, but eats anyway to be polite? Tell her about this alternative: lichens. Lichens are the result of a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. Some woodland caribou eat lichens all winter long. They must be really tasty, since one woodland caribou can consume over 2.7 kilograms of lichens per day.
  1. Need ideas for appetizers? Barn swallows can help you out with that. These birds primarily eat flying insects. They swoop down and grab grasshoppers, dragonflies or moths in mid-air. These insects are excellent choices for bite-sized appetizers.
  1. Moose (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

    Moose (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

    Now, we all have that one relative on a diet. Need a salad recipe that’s not Caesar salad? Got it: a mix of tree buds and twigs. That’s it. So simple! In winter, moose eat this all day, every day. The trick is to regurgitate the food back in your mouth for second helpings. Moose, like all deer, re-chew their food to continue extracting nutrients.
  1. Do you have a health nut in the family? No problem. Here’s your holiday trail mix: acorns, walnuts, mushrooms and forest berries. However, if your relative is anything like the eastern chipmunk, watch that trail mix bowl carefully! Chipmunks tend to fill up their cheeks to the rim and aren’t ones for sharing.
  1. Turkey vulture (Photo by Bill Hubick)

    Turkey vulture (Photo by Bill Hubick)

    Time for the big question: What alternative should you make for your holiday roast? How about carrion? It feeds a large group, and it’s already nice and saucy. This recipe is a must for turkey vultures. These birds can be seen in large groups where dead animals are found.
  1. Do you have coastal family members who love seafood? If so, then a big batch of krill is for you. Hopefully, your relatives eat more than just krill because, if they’re anything like blue whales, they can eat up to one million krill in one sitting!
  1. Do you have picky eaters that never want to try something new? If so, then earthworms will do. There are so many types of earthworms, and almost everyone eats them, including eastern moles, blue jays, robins and many other mammals, birds and reptiles. You can’t go wrong with this choice.
  1. Ruby-throated hummingbird (Photo by Brian Lasenby)

    Ruby-throated hummingbird (Photo by Brian Lasenby)

    What about drinks? Sure, coffee, teas and wines are great, but this year, you can wow your relatives with freshly squeezed nectar. Like ruby-throated hummingbirds, you’ll need a long tongue and an entire field of flowers to collect the nectar, but it’ll be worth it when your relatives take a sip.
  1. Dessert time! This year, forget about that yule log and take a downy woodpecker’s advice: a rotting log. Woodpeckers love rotting trees because inside the wood are juicy grubs and beetles. Delicious!
  1. And lastly, for another dessert idea, go for tulip bulbs and petals. This is a colourful and pleasant-smelling dessert. Hares, groundhogs and deer are known for their ability to eat lots of tulip bulbs and petals. You’ll need a large quantity since everyone will want seconds.

Hopefully, this list has inspired you. You’re guaranteed to have a wildly delicious holiday dinner.

Happy cooking!













Tina-Louise Rossit

About the Author

Tina-Louise Rossit is a zoologist based out of Montreal, Quebec. She is an aspiring zookeeper and wildlife writer.

Read more about Tina-Louise Rossit.

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