The Ortolan Bunting is a small songbird with an apparently big taste. Every year, the bird, which can fit in the palm of your hand, has to navigate a culinary death trap as it makes its way from Europe to Africa. In France it's considered a delicacy and it is apparently so good that gourmands are willing to subject the bird to terrible cruelty just to eat it.
Year after year around 1500 poachers catch an estimated 30,000 birds to feed this lucrative market
— that's 10% of the population that flies through the region being. "Hunters" use nets that entangle whole flocks as they fly or apply glue to their favorite trees, in the process other birds are caught as bycatches and die needlessly.
So many birds are poached annually that, since 1980, its population has declined by up to 88% in Europe.
But if you thought that was the worse part think again. Once caught, the birds are blinded in order to disrupt their feeding habits and forced to engorge themselves till they are plump enough to eat. Then they are drowned in brandy, cooked and served whole to awaiting customers.
But ending up on the menu is only one of the challenges the birds face for survival, climate change, habitat loss and nefarious and irresponsible agricultural practices are also serious factors in its decline.
But the fact that, even after France finally banned ortolan hunting in 1999, 30,000 ortolan buntings are still being gobbled up each year means France isn't taking the conservation of this songbird seriously. If it disappears the blame will be squarely on them. Tell France's ecology minister Élisabeth Borne that 20 years is far too long to wait for a real solution to end the ortolan masacre. Sign the petition and demand real action to stop the hunting now.