Two Million Birds a Year Are Vacuumed Up and Killed for This Ridiculous Reason

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: Portugal's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development and Spain's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Did you know that olives taste better if they are harvested at night? Some say it's because harvesting them in cooler temperatures that gives them that perfect flavor. Or, it could be perhaps the sprinkling of millions of dead birds that makes them taste just right.

According to an article in Nature, at least 2 million birds are killed each year all so we can have the perfect tasting olive. In Portugal and Spain, where many of the world's olives come from, olive season spans from October to January, the same month in which migrating birds are passing through the two Mediterranean countries. The inviting olive trees and the warm nights make great shelter for millions of them, but at night, while they are sleeping, harvesters are busy vacuuming up the olive fruit, and many of them get sucked up and churned out with them.

"Bartender, martini on the rocks, extra olives, hold the dead bird."  Sign to ban olive harvesting at night to save birds. 


During the day, the harvesting process wouldn't be lethal to birds. They are awake and could easily escape the harvesting tractor. But at night, theys are resting, and the bright lights used by the harvesters confuse the birds and they can easily get sucked into the vacuums and killed. To make matters worse, the birds are then sold, illegally, to local hotels to be served as gourmet dishes.

Species such as warblers, thrushes, wagtails, finches, and robins are the most likely victims and at death tolls that climb into the millions, the ecological consequences are staggering. The balance of entire ecosystems could be shifted by such big kills.

Globally, their populations have plummeted in recent years and European farmland avian species specifically have been hit hard. In the past 30 years, their populations have fallen by 55%. That number is alarming, and considering that over 1 million anial species are now in danger of disappearing from the Earth because of human practices, governments should do all they can to take action to protect the species they can. For Portugal and Spain, that means banning night harvesting and the sale of dead bird "bycatch" to hotels as food.

Please join Care2 in asking Spain and Portugal to ban these practices now.
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