Songbirds for the cooking pot
The consumption of songbirds as a "delicacy" has a long tradition in most countries of the Mediterranean region and is the driving force for catching and shooting countless robins, thrushes, larks and other small birds throughout Europe.
Officially, the sale of songbirds taken fro the wild is banned throughout the EU. But because there is little or no control in most countries, huge criminal gangs have become well established established in Cyprus and Italy, where several million plucked songbirds are sold every year to butchers, restaurants and private gourmet diners. In view of the enormous demand, the price of plucked songbirds on the black market has risen sharply everywhere in recent years, which in turn motivates many bird-trappers to catch even more. In Cyprus alone, the turnover from the illegal sale of blackcaps and thrushes is estimated at more than 10 million euros per year. A huge business, which has grown from 'small fish' trapping birds in their olive garden to highly organised trapping on an industrial scale. In order to cover the demand, in addition to the birds shot in their own country, the demand is supplemented with birds smuggled in from Eastern Europe and elsewhere. In Italy, for example, the police regularly confiscate smuggled loads of thousands of dead larks, thrushes or wagtails that have come into the country from Bulgaria and Serbia. In northern Italy, research by CABS revealed that game traders imported hundreds of thousands of frozen sparrows from Tunisia every year. This practice was brought to an end for the time being by a criminal complaint.