Biblical Definition Of
Many of the birds mentioned in the Bible were large birds of prey, of which there were many species in Palestine. They fed on small animals that they killed themselves and on the carcasses of larger animals that had either died or been killed by wild beasts. They even fed on the bodies of dead soldiers that lay scattered over the battlefield after war. Among these birds were vultures, eagles, hawks, falcons, ravens, owls and kites. The law of Moses did not allow Israelites to use any of these birds as food (Lev 11:13-19; Job 9:26; 28:7; 39:26; Ps 79:2; Isa 34:15; Jer 49:16; Ezek 39:4; Matt 24:28). The ostrich, though not a bird of prey, was considered a wild and fearsome bird, living in desolate or deserted places (Isa 13:21; 34:13; Jer 50:39).
There were many migratory birds in Palestine, and almost every month some departed and others arrived. The most common among these birds were the cormorant, ibis, crane, pelican, stork, seagull and heron. Israelite law again prohibited the use of these as food (Lev 11:13-19; Jer 8:7). It did not prohibit the eating of quails (Exod 16:13; Num 11:31-32; Ps 105:40).
Birds that were commonly seen around towns and villages were sparrows, swallows, doves and pigeons. Since these were allowable as food, people often caught them in traps, and then cooked and sold them (Lev 5:7; Ps 84:3; 91:3; Prov 26:2; Eccles 9:12; Amos 3:5; Matt 10:29). Israelites also kept chickens, both for their meat and for their eggs (1 Kings 4:23; Matt 23:37; 26:34).