Some French chefs are campaigning to legalise the hunting and eating of the endangered ortolan songbird, a tiny bunting weighing less than an ounce that is force-fed, killed by drowning in armagnac, and then cooked and eaten nearly whole, with the legs and feet, other hard bits, and the feathers removed so that rich gourmet diners don’t choke on their delicacy.

The French government banned the practise in 1999, imposing a fine of up to £4,000 for anyone caught trapping the birds, or restaurants serving them, and imprisonment for re-offenders. According to Birdlife International this hasn’t stopped a lucrative black market, with up to 30,000 birds a year being illegally taken and sold for more than £100 each, resulting in a reduction in numbers of 90% since 1980.

The chefs say that lifting the ban would stop the black market and bring prices down, but the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) argues that the move would simply increase the slaughter.

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