Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e.V. Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e. V.
Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

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Songbird trapping with limesticks in Cyprus

A lesser whitethroat found caught on a limestick
A lesser whitethroat found caught on a limestick

In the past, limesticks were used throughout Europe to catch wild birds. Today they can only be found in a few regions, especially in Eastern Spain, French Provence, Lebanon and Cyprus. While using glue to trap songbirds has become rare almost everywhere, it remains the most common and widespread trapping method in Cyprus.

Plum juice glue

The glue used in Cyprus is made from the berries of the Syrian plum tree. Olive branches are cut into 80cm long rods and coated with thickened plum juice. They are placed in trees and bushes, which are often cut to size and are often fitted with ladders so that the trappers can also reach the tops. Trapping trees are mostly mulberry trees, Japanese medlars, mastic shrubs, junipers or olive trees. 

60 bird species die on the limesticks

Unlucky to lucky: This garden redstart could be saved
Unlucky to lucky: This garden redstart could be saved

Blackcaps are the primary species sought after for the popular Cypriot delicacy known as "Ambelopoulia". But of course, limesticks indiscriminately catch anything and everything that settle on them. All insectivores and songbirds end up in the pot: In addition to blackcaps, the most common victims are garden warblers and lesser white-throats, wood warblers, redstarts, pied and collared flycatchers, nightingales and robins. Also bee-eaters (some of which are caught quite deliberately), owls, orioles, ortolan bunting also end up on the limesticks, as do endemic species such as the Cyprus warbler. In total, CABS activists have found more than 60 bird species on limesticks, more than half of them threatened throughout Europe. Bird trappers in Cyprus are thus causing far greater damage than most of their fellow kind in France, Spain or Italy. 

There are two trapping seasons: In the spring, the limesticks are out from March to May, in the autumn from September to November. Due to our bird protection camps, where we collect thousands of limesticks each year, the trapping times have shortened - most limesticks can only be found during the peak migration period in April and September. While the traps used to be set for several weeks, poachers now usually only lay them out on really good migration days. This alone saves tens of thousands of birds.