Photograph by David Guttenfelder, AP/National Geographic

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National Geographic magazine has received hundreds of letters from readers who want to help prevent the killing of songbirds, like these thrush nightingales trapped on gum-covered lime sticks.

Photograph by David Guttenfelder, AP/National Geographic

What Can You Do to Help Stop the Songbird Slaughter?

These organizations seek to halt the mass killing of birds.

In the July issue of National Geographic magazine, novelist Jonathan Franzen and photojournalist David Guttenfelder documented the slaughter of songbirds.

"Every year, from one end of [the Mediterranean] to the other," wrote Franzen, "hundreds of millions of songbirds and larger migrants are killed for food, profit, sport, and general amusement." Covering this mass killing of birds was like covering a war, according to Guttenfelder.

Readers responded to Franzen's text and Guttenfelder's photographs with outrage. The magazine has received hundreds of letters since the story was published, many from readers who want to know what they can do to help stop the slaughter.

Franzen, a passionate advocate for birds, suggests supporting several groups that are working to protect songbirds in the Mediterranean:


Illegal hunting and trapping is rampant in Italy, Cyprus, and Malta. BirdLife's affiliates in those countries--BirdLife Cyprus, BirdLife Malta, and LIPU in Italy—effectively combat poaching through the legal system and public education.

Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

CABS rescues birds and destroys traps in aggressive anti-poaching operations in Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, and France. (See Guttenfelder's photographs of CABS volunteers saving birds.)


Based in Germany, EuroNatur works to protect birds along the Adriatic Flyway, a migratory route followed by millions of birds across the Balkans and southern Italy twice a year. EuroNatur trains local bird-watchers to monitor bird populations and is developing no-hunting areas.

Nature Conservation Egypt

A relatively young group, Nature Conservation Egypt aims to increase protection and appreciation of the country's natural heritage, including the birds that migrate across its borders.

WWF Italy

WWF Italy supports volunteer forest rangers who pursue and arrest poachers, monitor illegal hunting and trapping sites, and seize illegal traps and devices that lure birds by playing recorded birdsong.

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