European Songbirds Served Up in Restaurants

By Rebecca Horne | August 25, 2010 5:11 pm

Alexander Heyd of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) answered my questions about the above photo: “I took the photo close to the nature reserve of Cape Greco in southeastern Cyprus, in the morning of 2nd May 2009. This place is well known for lime-stick traps — the poacher was never caught. We found illegally killed birds daily, but when I found the dead Bee Eater I was shocked. It was the first time I found this species on a lime-stick. The Bee Easter is my favourite bird — I love Mediterranean countries and this is the first typical Southern Europe bird I saw when I got out of the train in Lisbon in the year 1989 … my first trip alone, and my first trip in the South. As I stood there in the main train station in May, I heard this beautiful call — and the Bee Eaters where flying around me. This was my first impression of Mediterranean wildlife. When I’m back in the South and I hear the Bee Eater’s call I still remember that first trip, when I was 19 years old. And that’s what I thought when I found the dead Bee Eater. And I was really angry …”

Lime-sticks are twigs covered in an sticky glue made by boiling plums. These sticks are placed so as to provide inviting perches for birds. These wild birds may be cooked as ambelopoulia, an illegal dish served locally. Many of the species caught by trappers are already facing extinction. Trappers in Cyprus work throughout the autumn migration, as well as during the spring migration, when their haul is especially damaging since it occurs before the birds have been able to breed. With its partner organizations, CABS operates operates bird protection camps during migrations in Italy, Germany, Malta, and Cyprus. Volunteer bird lovers from all over Europe participate annually in these operations, dismantling between 25,000 and 30,000 bird traps and nets.

Photograph courtesy Alexander Heyd/Committee Against Bird Slaughter

  • Nemesis

    I hate to see that. Poachers are the worst. If you need money so badly that you have to obtain endangered animals, why couldn’t you use the same energy to do something constructive- or at least something non-destructive?
    Probably, because you’re either ignorant or stupid.

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  • Dan

    The poachers here in Cyprus don’t need the money to survive. They just need it to maintain an extremely comfy lifestyle… they can earn 10-20 thousand euros a year for 4 months of work, each, doing it only as a hobby. If they team together and organize themselves as they’ve done, they can make more than that even. And if they invite the police over for a free dinner of the birds once in a while (plus threaten carbombing officials if they decide to take *serious* action), then they have no fears.

    With the mist nets in particular, it’s organized crime here and not ignorance or poverty.

  • Doug Watts

    Go capitalism !!!


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About Rebecca Horne

Rebecca Horne ( is an artist, multi-platform freelance writer, and award-winning photography director. She launched Visual Science for in March 2010. She also writes about science and photography for The WallStreet Journal. You can reach her at


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