Birdlime is a viscid, adhesive substance used in trapping birds. It is spread on a branch or twig, upon which a bird may land and be caught. Its use is illegal in many countries.

Historically, the substance has been prepared in various ways, and from various materials. A popular form was made from holly bark, boiled for 10 to 12 hours. After the green coating is separated from the other, it is stored in a moist place for two weeks. It is then pounded into a thick paste, until no wood fibres remain, and washed in running water until no small specks appear. After fermenting for four or five days, during which it is frequently skimmed, the substance is mixed over a fire with a third part of nut oil. This is then ready for use.

Other versions with varying success were known to be used. Birdlime from Damascus was supposed to be made of sebestens, their kernels being frequently found in it; this version was not able to endure frost or wet. That brought from Spain was said to have a bad odor. That of the Italians was made of mistletoe berries, heated, mixed with oil, as before; to make it water resistant, they added turpentine. It was said that the bark of the wayfaring tree ("Viburnum lantana"), made birdlime as good as the best.

In the Valencian region of Spain, birdlime (locally known as "parany") is commonly used to capture Song Thrush, which is a delicacy throughout Spain and is used in many local recipes. In spite of the EU's attempts to curb this practice, using birdlime to capture in particular the much prized Song Thrush is still tolerated in this region. es icon cite web |url= |title= Un entramado para cazar tordos |author= Las Provincias |date= December 14 2006 |quote= ] es icon cite web |url= |title= El Tribunal de la UE condena a España por permitir la caza con 'parany' en la Comunidad Valenciana |author= Europa Press] cite web |url= |title= Failure of a Member State to fulfil obligations – Directive 79/409/EEC – Conservation of wild birds – Hunting using limed twigs - Summary of the Judgment |author= Commission of the European Communities |date= December 09 2004 |quote= ]

Nathaniel Atcheson in his 1811 work "On the Origin and Progress of the North-West Company of Canada with a history of the fur trade..." mentions birdlime (p 14) as an important import commodity for use in the Canadian west in the late 18th century.

Other meanings

*In modern times with the disuse of bird liming, the word "bird lime" is sometimes misunderstood and used wrongly to mean bird faeces, from its appearance as white splashes.
*"Bird lime" is also providentially sticky, hence it may be used to refer to a "sticky-fingered person" or some such.


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  • Birdlime — Bird lime , n. [Bird + lime viscous substance.] An extremely adhesive viscid substance, usually made of the middle bark of the holly, by boiling, fermenting, and cleansing it. When a twig is smeared with this substance it will hold small birds… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Birdlime — Bird lime , v. t. To smear with birdlime; to catch with birdlime; to insnare. [1913 Webster] When the heart is thus birdlimed, then it cleaves to everything it meets with. Coodwin. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • birdlime — [bʉrd′līm΄] n. 1. a sticky substance spread on twigs to catch birds 2. anything that snares vt. birdlimed, birdliming to spread or catch with birdlime …   English World dictionary

  • birdlime — (n.) viscous sticky stuff prepared from holly bark and used to catch small birds, mid 15c., from BIRD (Cf. bird) (n.1) + LIME (Cf. lime) (n.1). Used as rhyming slang for time (especially time in prison) by 1857 …   Etymology dictionary

  • birdlime — ► NOUN ▪ a sticky substance spread on to twigs to trap small birds …   English terms dictionary

  • birdlime — /berrd luym /, n., v., birdlimed, birdliming. n. 1. a sticky material prepared from holly, mistletoe, or other plants, and smeared on twigs to catch small birds that light on it. v.t. 2. to smear with birdlime. 3. to catch or capture, as with… …   Universalium

  • birdlime — noun Date: 15th century 1. a sticky substance usually made from the bark of a holly (Ilex aquifolium) that is smeared on twigs to snare small birds 2. something that ensnares • birdlime transitive verb …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • birdlime — 1. noun /ˈbɜːdlaɪm/ a) A sticky substance smeared on branches to catch birds. b) (rhyming slang) Time; a jail term. 2. verb /ˈbɜːdlaɪm/ to add birdlime to …   Wiktionary

  • birdlime — bird•lime [[t]ˈbɜrdˌlaɪm[/t]] n. v. limed, lim•ing. 1) a sticky material smeared on twigs to catch small birds that alight 2) to smear or catch with or as if with birdlime • Etymology: 1400–50; late ME brydelyme. See bird, lime …   From formal English to slang

  • birdlime — /ˈbɜdlaɪm/ (say berdluym) noun 1. a sticky material, prepared from holly, mistletoe or other plants and smeared on twigs to catch small birds which light on it. –verb (t) (birdlimed, birdliming) 2. to smear or catch with or as with birdlime …  

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