Posted by: Dan | February 23, 2009

A Culture of Killing Birds

Here’s something that struck me as relevant to migrations. No, I’m not living in Malta, nor do I know much about it. But bird hunting and trapping is a very popular thing here in Cyprus as well, I so kinda feel some empathy for the conservationists in Malta. Which brings me to the interesting bit:

An article titled Is killing birds just a part of another culture?.

It is a small part of English culture to sit under a tree on an afternoon in June, to close your eyes and to relish the sound of the church bell, the thwacks and shouts from the white-clad players on the green, the purring of turtledoves in the branches above. Turtledoves, that quintessentially English sound: shame that there aren’t nearly as many as there used to be. A significant part of Maltese culture is to blast the bejesus out of turtledoves. Ever since Malta came into the EU five years ago, Maltese people have been saying that you can’t stop us killing birds, it’s part of our culture.

[…] Such an argument ignores the fact that all cultures throw up bad things as well as good.

[…]The profligate killing of wildlife is a bad part of any culture, including our own. The killing of the world’s birds on spring and autumn migration is a bad part of Maltese culture. And hear this, you Maltese, it is what your island is most famous for.

Killing wildlife at the level Malta is known for has been done before, notably in the United States in the 19th Century. The United States and others before and since have learned the hard way that wanton destruction of the natural world is irresponsible. Yet still, Malta persists, as do some in Cyprus.



  1. Cyprus? Do you know of the Harvard affiliates in Cyprus? Such a beautiful location to live.. been working with students there as well as affiliates. Great blog! Will be enjoying more often,


  2. Thanks KAS. Yes, it is quite nice here indeed, and I have heard of the Harvard affiliates here, although I haven’t heard anything from what’s going on there in a while.

    Regarding Cyprus – mostly, it’s just another place, with its slightly different mores and norms. But it’s also a remarkably history-shaped culture that is crashing headlong into modernism. So it’s been interesting.


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