Blackbirds In Portugal Are Once Again “Under Fire”

There are many blackbirds in our garden and over time I believe they have learned (on our patch of earth at least) we do not pose a threat to them. We coexist and live in peace. I love to quietly observe the blackbirds building their nests, flying back and forth with suitable building materials until the nest is complete. Time passes and we then hear baby blackbirds chirping noisily and demanding food.

The 20 year ban on hunting blackbirds in Portugal has been lifted
The 20 year ban on hunting blackbirds in Portugal had been lifted

I had never actually stopped to consider bird hunting in Portugal prior to reading a plea asking people to sign a petition. Apparently, The 20 year ban on hunting blackbirds in Portugal had been lifted and they wanted to reverse the decision. If you would like to sign the petition further details can be found here
I was horrified as I read about different aspects of hunting and asked the poster of the petition to write an article to share with my readers; he kindly agreed. What was the point in shooting blackbirds?

Article courtesy of Les

Hunting of blackbirds was banned 20 years ago and now it is back on the list of birds, which they are allowed to hunt. This is due to the Viniculture Industry applying pressure on Min of Agriculture who then passed the problem on to Sectary of State for Rural Development & Forestry
Who then decided that the Ban should be lifted!

This decision was taken without consulting the Environmental NGO’s & without consulting the Sectary of State for the Environment

The Viniculture Industry stated these birds are causing damage to the grapes.

Many years ago they had a similar cull of Black Birds in Spain for the same reason.
After the cull, they did a study; it found the Birds had been eating the grubs that had been eating the grapes.

Out come – Ecosystem out of balance & even lower crop yields.
The following quote was taken from a Portuguese Hunters Forum over this change of Law

“In addition to the violation of existing Birds Directives, this Law is the biggest load of nonsense & Bad Game Management practice that has ever been seen in Portugal”

I was a little confused, so I asked Les whether they shoot the birds purely for sport or to eat.

As for eating them I doubt very much if they could most the Trudus genra
Blackbird – Redwing – Fieldfare – Missal Thrush – Song Thrush
Only weigh 80 -125 grams (3-4.5 oz).
When hit by lead shoot they would possibly be shredded, what’s left to eat?
The Starling is even lighter 75-90 grams (3-3.5oz)

Article to be continued…

Why would anyone want to shoot an animal or bird just for sport? If it’s not vermin, it’s not about to attack you and it’s not for food, why shoot something just for “fun”?

There are also other issues such as the lead from the cartridges contaminating the ground and being ingested by wild life which causes lead poisoning.

Plus if you are walking in the country beware the hunting season starts 15th August and finishes end 28th February and Hunting takes place on Sundays – Thursday & Public Holidays

Please share your views both hunters and those who object to hunting. I am trying to keep an open mind here, but I’m struggling – to hunt purely for “fun” seems so morally wrong to me…

Picture courtesy of


56 thoughts on “Blackbirds In Portugal Are Once Again “Under Fire”

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  1. I have lived in portugal for 16 years, and i was shocked the first time i saw someone down my forest track who had been shooting birds. Not only did they have blackbirds but woodpeckers too. Sadly, after all the years i have been here and the things i’ve seen, i am no longer shocked, i am disgusted, horrified and saddened. The way people treat their ‘pets’ is disgusting, kicking and whipping dogs, goats etc, its no wonder that wildlife has the blunt end of the stick when it comes to hunting

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My next door woman neighbour had 2 blackbirds in a cage luckily or underluckily 1 died. Does anyone know why blackbirds are caged?


  3. I’ve been tracking what I believe to be a fix or a mongoose. I can hear it’s calls at night, see it’s setts and follow it’s defaections discovering it moves all around my land. A few weeks ago no more calls, including the owls? Also one of my dogs who escaped under the fence returned poisoned. So I found the setts filled in. One had flies over it and a bad smell. I dug up the remains of a creature with very long claws like a badger and a black bushy tail, stuffed in a box and full of maggots. This was in August quite close to me. I loathe hunters, destroyers of the countryside.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello, thanks for the article. Regarding the sign saying “no hunting without the consent of the wowners” – without the sign, can people hunt on your property? don’t you need a permission to be on someone’s land? Thanks


  5. All hunting and animal cruelty is wrong, it breaks my heart, if there was one lesson we should all learn it is to co-exist with nature … hmm but what about my bugs… Oh dear..M


  6. I agree hunting is always going to be a topic of debate. Look at how much flak the royal family attract for hunting for sport. I can’t see the point in hunting for pleasure – I don’t understand how killing brings pleasure.


  7. “…275 – 450 euros/month that is so low for people to live on, especially if they have to pay rent and then electricty, water before they even find money for food etc etc…”

    Yes, it’s true and horrible, and this a major problem that Portugal needs to solve, but remember that just 40 years ago, Portugal was living in a dictature and the situation was much worse.

    “…in the UK there would be for sure additional support…”

    Yes, I know. That’s why you don’t have so many people beging on the streets, for example. You feed them with benefits, even if they don’t do anything. However, are you sure they are not poor? See how do they live, what education/cultural values do they have? Do they have any perspectives of getting a life at all?

    I am not sure…



    1. Some of the people on benefits in the UK apparently are better off on benefits than going to work!

      The real uneducated and deprived poor are the ones that truly need help – but it’s no good just giving them money if you do not change their mindset. Having said that there are also those who have known good times but have fallen on hard times and have a problem getting themselves out of the gutter.

      It’s a difficult one


  8. Hi Baião,
    No way do I feel upset by your comments it’s really nice to have an open and meaningful discussion! 🙂 The figures have opened my eyes more…but not for the better.

    275 – 450 euros/month that is so low for people to live on, especially if they have to pay rent and then electricty, water before they even find money for food etc etc. in the UK there would be for sure additional support. So I would not have a problem if these guys hunted for food . It’s easy to judge when we are fortunate to have plenty of food on the table and to be honest this was what I was trying to convey. (But not very well 🙂 ) I was just trying to differenciate between need and waste.
    Hunting is an emotive subject and as I said I am trying to understand how anyone can kill for killings sake and just for fun…

    Thanks for sharing
    PiP 🙂
    Hunting was always going to be a difficult topic and thought provoking topic 😦


  9. Hi Piglet,
    I hope you didn’t feel upset with my comments, but I felt I should give you a different view.
    I agree with everything that you have said in your last comment. It’s true; there are people in Portugal living in poverty, as there are people living very, very well. Actually a major problem in my country is the gap between rich and poor, which is getting larger and larger. So, don’t understand me in the wrong way, I am not denying poverty in Portugal. What I meant is that the image of having people going to hunt because otherwise they will starve is not correct.
    However, everything is relative and you need to be aware of that. Portuguese people like to complaint, is something deep in our culture. By some reason we have the “Fado” and you have rock music.
    So, let’s see if I can give an image closer to the reality.
    Farmers (small producers), people working in the fields, factories etc… The salaries are very low; most of them should be getting something around the minimum wage, something around 450 euros/month, times 14, since in Portugal everybody receives 14 salaries. To these ones you have to add up all the pensioners receiving the minimum pension, around 275 euros/month.
    So if you compare them with people in the UK, France Spain etc…they are very poor indeed.
    Let’s now move a bit up, for those that have some skills and can work, self employed, small builders, plumbers etc…This ones are obviously dependent on the amount of work they can get, but in normal conditions they can do quite well, not to be considered rich or going in holidays to Florida etc..but you can expect them to get at least, 2000 euros/month after taxes ( and this is the lowest figure, I have). Again for those working has employees, the figures are much lower, again something between 600 and 1300 euros/month is to expect.
    Then you have a large group of people, mainly young people, with university degrees, which are getting a lot of trouble to get a job in Portugal. A lot of them are working without a proper contract (recibos verdes), and even when they get one, the salaries range from 600 euros to 1000/1500 euros. These are the ones that are trying to emigrate, since they expect to get much better jobs (higher salaries, working contract etc) in other countries. Which they will soon discover is not completely true. For this I can give my personal example, I have worked in both countries, and believe me never felt I was richer in the UK than I was in Portugal, furthermore my salary has in fact decreased when I came to the UK.
    Moving now to those with a proper job (I mean working already for some years) and having a degree or a lot of professional experience. Teachers, for example, which are traditionally not well paid in a lot of countries. The salary of a secondary school teacher goes from 1100 euros/month (probationary period) to 2900 euros/month at the end of the payscale. This before taxes, and again times 14.
    Lawyers (not the young ones), doctors etc..For these expect salaries well above the 4000 euros/month.
    University teachers, the lowest salary starts around 3000 euros/month (before taxes) and x14.
    Other professionals, it varies a lot but something between 1500 and 4000 is common.
    Above this you can expect everything. For example the president of TAP gets something like 625000 euros/year, the director of CGD gets something like 560000 euro/year etc.

    So, the problem in Portugal is for those unfortunate ones, which might lose their jobs, Contrary to what happens in other European countries, benefits and measures in place to help these people are very weak, and those will suffer the most.
    Sorry for the long comment, I hope it helps in some way.


  10. Hi Baião,
    Thank you for your comments…yes I was confused as to why people would want to shoot blackbirds hence my question to Les after reading the article he sent (I was thinking of the lead shot from the gun in such a small bird) there is a difference between hunting for food and blasting a bird to bits for fun. Yes, I had never stopped to consider the whole topic of hunting until now…and moral issues were raised and perhaps I tried to justify them.

    The small birds I see for sale at the butchers are in perfect condition so these must have been farmed or netted.

    I have different impressions of Portugal and from what I have observed from living in a small town, exploring the Algarve and visiting Lisbon on several occasions. I have had many interesting discussions with Portuguese and was told there is great wealth and great poverty. I see the lady wandering the lands grazing her goats, the old farmers tilling the fields both living the old ways from the land. A Portuguese man we have known for years told me if his business fails due to the recession he will go to the UK as he could not live on the benefits here. Shortly he would sell his car because he could not afford to run it and go back to his burro and cart. He was so down and worried about money it was eating away at him: you could feel his despair. I have spoken to people collecting food in the supermarkets (the name of their organisation escapes me at the moment).
    I see the people from Lisbon come here on holiday and spend more on a meal of fresh fish than I would spend on a weeks shopping. I used to ahve lengthy discussion with my Portuguese teacher who has lived in various countries. I had in depth conversations with a Portuguese teacher I know and used to meet for coffee, before her wages were reduced and she did not know how she was going to live.

    My impressions are based on everyday life around me and speaking to the local Portuguese. They also think the UK is the land of milk and honey…it is funny the impressions we have.
    Perhaps, it’s the Portuguese people I have spoken to that have led me these conclusions rightly or wrongly. there is much about the UK I don’t like and as for France, I observe and listen.

    As for hunting I still maintain there is a difference between hunting for fun and hunting to eat.

    I really appreciate your input.

    Kind regards


  11. Dear Piglet,

    “…As for eating them I doubt very much if they could most the Trudus genra
    Blackbird – Redwing – Fieldfare – Missal Thrush – Song Thrush
    Only weigh 80 -125 grams (3-4.5 oz).
    When hit by lead shoot they would possibly be shredded, what’s left to eat?
    The Starling is even lighter 75-90 grams (3-3.5oz)…”

    sorry Piglet, but the above is completly wrong….

    While I am not a bird hunter, I do eat small birds occasionaly. In Portugal we use to eat this dish as a “petisco” from time to time, and I can assure you it’s very good. However, I agree with you that hunting these small birds, as any other animal, should be done with care for maintain the species, and this has been taken into account., that’s why hunting of these small birds has been forbiden for a long time.

    By the way, you migth consider to include the French in to this campaign. They also do eat small birds, an dthey are not poor, at least by the Uk standards…I guess.

    “…The ortolan is one of the dishes of French country cuisine. It is now against the law to sell them in France, but not to eat them.
    For centuries, a rite of passage for French gourmets has been the eating of the Ortolan. These tiny birds—captured alive, force-fed, then drowned in Armagnac—were roasted whole and eaten that way, bones and all, while the diner draped his head with a linen napkin to preserve the precious aromas and, some believe, to hide from God…”
    (in the wine spectator).

    Piglet, I have notice that you tend to justify some things in Portugal with the country’s poverty, saying things like ” …Portugal is a poor country..and yes they do hunt for food rather than starve.”.
    Portugal is not a rich country, this is for sure, the average salary is lower than in the uk for example, and social benefits are much lower. However, and fortunately the image of Portugal that sometimes you give is not real, and I am starting to suspect is more based in prejudice than in real knowledge of the country, possibly because you live in a small rural village.
    We do have cases of people living in extreme poverty, this is true for sure, but you also have that in the UK, and other countries, and nobody uses that to explain some behaviours found in english people for example.

    Best of luck


  12. I don’t understand. Here in New Zealand the vineyards put nets over the grapes to stop the bird from eating them. Don’t they do that there?


  13. Hopefully as people like you make this topic public and open for discussion, rational heads will prevail. It does seems anti-productive that the evidence hasn’t been studied and followed. If this ban is lifted, the viniculture industry could find themselves with a huge loss of grapes and messed up ecosystem and the birds would have been murdered for nothing.


  14. I eat meat. I respect vegetarians and maybe some day I’ll figure it all out. So I can’t in all consciousness criticize those who hunt, even though the sport in it alludes me. The animal kingdom can be pretty harsh too. I was reading about bluebird houses and how other birds will sometimes take over the birdhouse and kill the eggs.


  15. I don’t see how anyone can kill any living thing for sport. Some hunt and eat their kill but I see no need for that either with all the food available in these times. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog.


  16. Quite often nature steps in and one harsh season will naturally cull the birds. Sadly, too many of us just see “find and destroy” as our only option. We fail to see our own place in the web of life.


  17. What a weird type of hunting. I kind of understand a cull if too many birds are having an impact on local industry but to open the gates and shout “Hunting Season Open” is a bit weird. I never understood the whole hunting season thing, guys wandering the forests shooting animals etc. I like meat, and would kill an animal to survive, but dashing around shooting stuff when I have a fridge full of tasty food at home seems like pointless murder to me.


  18. Nature is a very complex thing and I think it’s perfectly capable to find a balance itself. I really don’t understand why there would be any hunting on birds. It just doesn’t make sense to me…


  19. So sad. Thanks for this enlightening story, PiP. I hope the powers that be allow the blackbirds to continue to fly and that the grape growers get it–that everything requires balance. You gotta give some to get some, right?


  20. I don’t agree with hunting for sport. I hope you all can get this situation resolved and the black birds can once again maintain the eco balance without continuing to be targets.


    1. Hi Penny,
      the article Les wrote is a lot longer and will be continued.We have so many birds in our garden and they are such “characters”. It makes me wonder as well, hence I asked to hear from hunters as well. So sad


  21. One species sport is another species life. I am Anti Hunting for sport. Unless you live in the wild, which very few people do, you don’t really have any business hunting for food either. This is a sad story.


    1. Hi BB,
      Portugal is a poor country and I’ve been told there are a lot of people in rural areas, living on the breadline, and yes they do hunt for food rather than starve.
      Killing for sport for killings sake is different. 😦


  22. I’m a vegetarian. I don’t understand people who harm animals, and that includes hunting or fishing “for sport,” horseracing, dogfighting, bull fighting, etc.

    If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals. ~ Albert Einstein

    We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words. ~ Anna Sewell

    How smart does a chimp have to be before killing him constitutes murder? ~ Carl Sagan

    The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~ Mahatma Gandhi


  23. I could never hunt unless I was starving to death. I couldn’t hurt an innocent animal. although I eat meat, I think if I ever saw how they killed the animals that provide it, I would become a vegetarian!


    1. Hi Shell,
      I really can’t see why people would want to hunt for sport. When I discovered through Les that birds were also being shot and that now included the blackbird I was shocked.
      😦 PiP


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