Not sure whether this belongs better in MPSIMS or IMHO: mods, please relocate if appropriate.
A natural history / conservation matter, brought to mind by a book being currently read. In regions essentially on the eastern side of the Atlantic it’s a long-well-known, almost cliché’d feature: that birds on their spring and autumn migrations between Africa and Europe are killed in large numbers, most usually by shooting, by people in the southern parts of Europe and in the Middle East; especially small passerine birds, which these folk consider a culinary delicacy. People in liberally-inclined more northerly Western European countries widely consider this a hateful and barbarous practice. This opinion arising, both on general lines of how one perceivedly should and should not treat the animal kingdom; and, most particularly in recent decades, from a conservation angle – viz. wildlife is under threat, involving declining numbers, in numerous ways worldwide: the impact on bird populations of millions of keen small-bird-shooters around the Mediterranean, is putting far-too-heavy pressure on the various bird species involved. I, being British and a nature-lover, had always tended to take it as self-evident that Mediterranean small-bird-slaughter = BAD. The abovementioned book gave me a little pause, re this issue.
The book is an overall delightful one by a Lebanese lady, now resident in Western Europe – book dealing primarily with Middle Eastern cuisine, with many inviting recipes; plus reminiscences by the author about her childhood and youth in that part of the world. She waxes nostalgic at one point, about childhood stays on her family’s property in the Lebanese countryside; with her uncles going small-bird-shooting at the time of the autumn migration. Description follows, of her helping the womenfolk with preparing the uncles’ “bag”, for eating; and what delectable eating she and all concerned found same, to be. She writes, “despite the fact that eating them is now seen as completely non-PC, they remain one of my favourite foods”. The same sentiment is expressed more than once, in the book. It’s perhaps salutary, and giving some challenge to automatic preconceptions, to come across a voice from the other side of the battlefront.
The author does not choose to get into the “conservation” angle of the issue. Assuming a continuing very copious supply of small birds, I think my “take” would have to be – “plenty for the Lebanese lady and her wide-ranging chums, who like to eat them – plenty for Western European birders, who like to delight in the creatures alive and doing their thing – mutual tolerance, live and let live / die”.
Curiosity aroused: I understand that there’s a similar migration scene in the New World – small birds of many species, which spend summer in North America, and winter in Central / South America / the Caribbean. Is there a similar drain on the species – and thus cause for concern – as on this side of the pond: a large amount of killing of the birds, in and especially en route (southerly parts) to / from their wintering area; or is this more an Old World “thing”? Would be interested in info from natural-history-knowledgeable folk.