European top politicians, including Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, are expected to flock to Cyprus over the next six months as it assumes the EU presidency. But the Swedish government has been warned: Don’t eat the songbirds
In a letter to the prime minister’s office, the Swedish Ornithological Society (Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening – SOF) has warned Reinfeldt over eating songbirds, which it refers to as “dark side of Cypriot cuisine”.
Specifically, it is the traditional dish ambelopoulia which has ruffled SOF’s feathers.
Made up of up to a dozen grilled, pickled or boiled small songbirds, the dish is considered a delicacy in Cyprus.
Despite a ban on serving ambelopoulia, the bite-sized birds – which are eaten whole – can still be found in many Cypriot restaurants.
A plate of prepared songbirds costs between €40 and €80 ($50 to $100).
The preparation of the controversial dish involves trapping wild birds such as blackcaps, using mist nets or lime sticks glued to trees.
The poachers then kill the birds by impaling their throats with toothpicks.
SOF has urged Reinfeldt not to sample ambelopoulia, arguing that the prime minister and his European counterparts should also help combat the Cyprus “bird slaughter”.
According to SOF, around two million small birds are caught in mist nets and on lime sticks every year and the hunt, they say, is partly run through organized crime.
SOF believes Cyprus’ illegal bird hunt is an international concern since it affects European migratory birds, including Swedish ones.