The hunting of songbirds for consumption as a delicacy in restaurants, principally in Italy, is an issue of serious conservation concern. This activity, which involves highly organized criminal activity in South-east and Central Europe, has received insufficient attention to date, however. Hunters are illegally shooting birds and smuggling them to northern Italy and Malta. Many of the affected species are protected by European Community (EC) and national legislation, and some species are very rare. The scale of this trade is huge.