Dying traditions, raptor hunting in the strait

On Sunday we went to visit what used to be the best location for raptor hunting in Calabria. Have a look at this video to see what we found and read on if you want to know more!


Adorno is the local name of the European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), a species of raptor which every spring crosses the Messina Strait northwards and then flies back towards Africa late summer. Traditionally, this charismatic bird used to be shot by local hunters during the migration: the so-called ‘Caccia all’Adorno’ (Adorno hunting). This is because some legends existed with regards to the species, considered to carry some negative connotations. In fact, its conceptual similarity with pirates – both come from the sea and their arrival is difficult to predict – gave birth to the legend that every man of the area was supposed to hunt at least one European Honey Buzzard each spring as a sign of virility, in order to avoid the unfortunate event of a pirate invasion, which would have had tragic effects on their wives.. Furthermore, those who were not able to come back home with a bird bagged up had to ride a donkey during the village festivities and were ridiculed by villagers as they were paraded around town. In order to avoid such a shame, the hunt of the Adorno raised its importance through time and the tradition continued until a few decades ago, when this practice was banned by law. Nowadays, although this tradition has disappeared, this type of hunting is still occasionally undertaken by some nostalgic poachers, provoking the fearless activism of forestry guards and bird protectionists…


2 responses to “Dying traditions, raptor hunting in the strait

  1. I hadn’t realised that it was the alignment of the migratory honey buzzard with marauding pirates that had given rise to the hunting practices. Now that these traditions have died out I was wondering if you gained any insights as to whether whether the migratory buzzards are being aligned with other stories or ideas locally ie. whether they or not they are retaining visibility in local culture.

    • Interestingly some of the younger members of hunting associations have started to use charismatic raptor species in hunting shows they organise in rural towns. Some are simply used for show and others are brought in for falconry demonstrations, they are hoping this way to show how the relationship between man and raptor can change from one of conflict to one of friendship and trust..

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