A Bird in the Hand / by Adrian Joyner

Birthday bulletin. 8.15pm. Feb 16. Sitting at the table, writing by the light of the diminutive solar powered lamp, with my birthday present bottle of Mythos Hellenic Lager in front of me and listening to the wind outside as it roars like a train out of the mountain

Niko popped in before it got dark with his ancient Russian shotgun over his shoulder like some antique Maniot ruffian. The hunting season ends next week so the landscape is loud with the popping of shotguns at the moment. They shoot small birds, thrushes and other songbirds, and while you may not approve, it is a part of life for Greek men, and at least the birds are eaten after they have been shot.

I encountered Frosso and Dina the other week sitting around their fire, plucking small birds. They had two bowls on the floor in front of them, one containing the scarlet plucked corpses, the other piled high with un-plucked birds. Feathers everywhere, obviously.

We don’t eat songbirds ourselves as a rule but Andriana, a Greek friend, once brought a tray of cooked thrushes as an addition to a Jacob’s join meal at our house. They are a tad crunchy since you are supposed to eat them, bones and all. 
Greeks seem to refer to all small birds shot for the table as thrushes, though the hunting bag may include species which would be considered rare in the UK, black redstart, for instance, as well as blackbirds, blackcap and thrushes.