Wild birds in a cage
In the Mediterranean region, songbirds, especially finches such as goldfinches, linnets or serins, are very popular as cage birds. But while in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Malta they are more of a niche species for bird keepers, in the Middle East - especially in Turkey and Lebanon - they are a big seller in every pet shop.
In Lebanon, they are trapped in huge nets. The centre of bird trapping is the Bekaa Plain, but songbird nets - recognisable by the live decoys of the "target species" or electronic decoys with the respective song - can also be found throughout the country. Although it is easy to breed finches, the birds are almost exclusively caught in the wild. Because the Lebanese trappers can hardly meet the demand, birds from Syria are also brought across the border illegally.
Almost every pet shop will include goldfinches in its assortment - they are often the eye-catcher at the entrance. Some shops even specialise in this one species and often have thousands of freshly caught birds in their showrooms. In addition, there are street traders who offer goldfinches at favourable prices at markets as well as along the arterial roads in the big cities.
The sale of wild-caught animals is not allowed, but the phenomenon is so widespread that the police - apart from the widespread toleration by most authorities - hardly have a chance to effectively enforce the law to prevent large commercial trade.