Europe and Central Asia
26 Nov 2014

Say NO to birds in a cage and on a plate

By Communications

BirdLife Partner SPEA launches a new campaign to stop the illegal capture and sale of birds in Portugal.

Are you aware that with the simple click of a mouse you can buy a Great Tit online?...

On Portuguese websites, it is quite common to find for sale, next to bicycles or a pair of shoes, a woodpecker, a Blackbird and even some birds of prey.

Whilst in some cases individuals have the legal right to sell native species, most of such advertisement relates to illegal capture and trade of protected wild species.

Birds in a cage are not the only source of concern for the SPEA. Although capturing birds for food is illegal (except for hunting of certain game species), a high number of songbirds like European Robins and Blackcaps are caught, either to eat at home, or sold to restaurants, in which it is still common to find ‘fried birds’ on the menu.

A recent study on illegal capture and killing of wild birds, carried out by SPEA with the support of BirdLife, revealed that the Blackcap, Eurasian Robin, European Goldfinch and Eurasian Chaffinch are the most frequently captured birds and that the Southern Algarve, Lisbon and Oporto are the most affected regions. In the Algarve, the main problem seems to involve bird-eating, while in Lisboa and the Oporto regions, the caged bird ‘business’ is the most important activity, which happens mostly in local fairs and on the internet. Everyday Great Tits, Bluethroats or European Robins, can be found for sale, predominantly on the OLX and CustoJusto websites.

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Even though bird trapping is illegal, the traps, nets and limesticks used for the trapping are openly sold, due to a lack of specific legislation. Catching the trappers in the act is very rare and only a tiny fraction of SPEA’s reports to the police are successfully prosecuted.

The main reason this practice continues, is due to a lack of information amongst the Portuguese population as to the harm it causes to bird populations and wildlife in general.

This is why SPEA has just launched a new campaign “Say NO to birds in a cage and on a plate”, aiming to educate and raise the awareness in Portuguese citizens. The campaign also calls on the authorities for a better control mechanisms of illegal activities.

The campaign looks for the support of citizens, to denounce or report illegal acts, to be alert for traps and nets in the fields and to raise money for SPEA’s actions. Learn more on SPEA’s website


*The campaign is supported by several local and national Portuguese NGOs: Rias Animal Rescue center and A Rocha, in the Algarve, CERVAS Animal rescue center, in Serra da Estrela, LPN and Quercus nationally.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.