Goldfinches are a popular cage-bird everywhere in the Middle-East. But while in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Malta it is more of a niche bird among eccentric bird collectors, in the Middle East - especially in Turkey and Lebanon - it is a bestseller of any pet shop.
Thus goldfinch trapping in Lebanon is big business and they are caught in huge trapping sites with nets. The epicentre for bird trapping in Lebanon is the Bekaa plain, but there are also other Goldfinch nets - recognisable by the live decoy birds or electronic callers singing - in pretty much every corner of the country. Although the breeding of the finch species is relatively easy, the birds are almost exclusively wild caught. Because the Lebanese trappers can hardly meet the demand, goldfinches from Syria are also illegally brought across the border.
No pet shop goes without goldfinches - they are often the eye-catcher at the entrance. Some shops have even specialise in this one species, and thousands of freshly caught birds are often found in these shops. In addition there are street vendors who offer Goldfinches at rock-bottom prices on markets as well as along the back streets in large towns and cities.
The sale of wild captured animals is legally prohibited, but the phenomenon is so widespread that the police - apart from turning a blind eye to the situation - hardly have a chance to effectively put an end to the hustle and bustle of the trade.