What is bird’s milk?

Hearing the phrase “bird’s milk”, sweet tooths primarily represent sweetness, romantics recall fairy tales and legends in which girls sent suitors to unknown lands for bird milk, ornithologists – birds feeding their offspring with goiter milk. In everyday conversations about a picky person, they often say that he only lacks bird’s milk.

What is natural bird milk really?

  • Bird’s milk, or goiter’s milk, or pigeon’s milk is a curdled secret that some birds produce to feed their chicks. Representatives of the pigeon family, some species of penguins, parrots and flamingos are endowed with such a feature.

In pigeons, this nutrient mixture is produced by special glands in the goiter, in other birds in the esophagus and stomach. Interestingly, “bird milk” is produced during the breeding season in both females and males. The first days of life, babies eat only this secret, which contributes to the rapid increase in their weight.

It should be noted that goiter milk has nothing in common with mammalian milk. Unlike mammalian milk, bird’s milk does not contain calcium, lactose and carbohydrates. Goitre milk contains a lot of fats and proteins.

Photo: Depositphotos

Of course, it is difficult for a person to get such milk, this is not the milk of domestic animals, which you feed, milk – and drink healthy white liquid for health.

For bird milk, you have to go to a fairy tale, to the legendary Buyan island. The amazing bird Gagana, the progenitor of all birds on earth, lives on that island. This bird is the only one who gives bird milk.

If you find Gagana and respectfully ask her for help, she will give the person her milk. Anyone who tastes that milk, no weapon and no sickness can overcome.

In ancient Slavic legends, it is often told of fastidious girls who send suitors to who knows where for bird milk.

In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder used the term “bird’s milk” to refer to great rarity.

Monument to Pliny the Elder in Como.  XV century
Monument to Pliny the Elder in Como. XV century
Photo: JoJan,

The ancient Greeks did not ignore the bird’s milk, where the comedian Aristophanes also uses the phrase “bird’s milk” to denote a great rarity.

And, of course, when the confectioners made delicate, airy, extraordinary-tasting sweets that melted in their mouths, they remembered the fabulous bird that gives milk and called the new sweetness bird’s milk. As the story goes, such extraordinary sweets were first produced in 1936 in Poland and named “Ptasie mleczko”.

  • So, today in the food industry, bird’s milk is a confectionery product (sweets, cakes, pastries) with a jelly-like, airy-soft, not very sweet white soufflé made on the basis of whipped proteins with the addition of cream, sugar or sweet syrups, molasses, agar or gelatin, glazed with chocolate on top.

In the former Soviet Union, this delicacy appeared in 1967 after a visit to Poland by the Minister of the Food Industry of the USSR. The high official was treated to bird milk, and after returning to his homeland, he gave the task of domestic confectioners to make such sweets. There was a sample, but there was no recipe.

The technology for the production of these sweets was developed by the technologist of the Vladivostok confectionery factory Anna Fedorovna Chulkova. By the way, this factory has been using seaside agar-agar since 1932.

Anna Fyodorovna Chulkova
Anna Fyodorovna Chulkova
Photo: Yuri Evdan, RIA PrimaMedia,

Nowadays, many manufacturers produce such sweets, while adding various substitutes for natural products and preservatives to them. But the shelf life of classic poultry milk is only 15 days!

The traditional packaging of “Bird’s milk” sweets (300 g) should contain three types of sweets (cream, chocolate and lemon), and in equal quantities.

Left: Bird's milk from the Rot Front factory.  Right: Ptasie mleczko from E.  Wedel
Left: Bird’s milk from the Rot Front factory. Right: Ptasie mleczko from E. Wedel “
Photo: Off-shell,

As for the “Bird’s Milk” cake, it is the first cake in the USSR for which a patent was issued.

And here are some thoughts in conclusion that come to mind: looking into the depths of centuries, having studied the myths and legends of people who lived many centuries before us, you can find a lot more outlandish, but real, which is on the verge of fantasy. Find and implement in new technologies in all spheres of human life.


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