Bird trapping is an illegal, non-selective, and cruel practice that is carried out in Cyprus. It involves the indiscriminate and large scale killing of thousands of birds every year, with the worst year, since our records began, being 2014 with an estimated 2.5 million birds killed
. From various data sources there are 155 confirmed bird species that are affected by illegal bird trapping in Cyprus;
however, this number could be larger. 82 οf the 155 species are listed as conservation priority species under the EU Birds Directive and / or BirdLife International. Overall, 400 bird species have been recorded in Cyprus, of which 280 are regularly occurring species.
Historically, trapped birds were a food supplement for the mostly poor island inhabitants living off the land. The practice of bird trapping in Cyprus has been recorded in historical documents from the Middle Ages and even earlier times. Trapping as practiced in Cyprus today, using mist nets and calling devices to attract birds, bears no relation to the ‘traditional’ practice, which was also of a non-selective nature. Nowadays, illegal bird trapping in Cyprus is widespread and extensive, taking place at an industrial scale, contributing to the large scale killing of hundreds of thousands of migratory and wintering birds. Illegal bird trapping during spring and autumn (main trapping period) targets mainly the capture and consumption of ambelopoulia (ambelopouli is the Cypriot name for the Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
. However, this term is normally used as a more generic term or collective noun that includes over 40 different songbird species that are caught on limesticks and mist nets. Illegal bird trapping also takes place extensively during the winter, targeting mainly the capture and consumption of Song thrushes Turdus philomelos