Why won't you use the term 'gamebird'?

Protect the Wild won’t use the term ‘gamebird’ because how we describe the living beings around us is hugely important.

When it comes to our wildlife, we’ve all inherited a grubby pile of loaded, value-laden terms that have been handed down to us and that we now repeat almost unthinkingly. And ‘gamebird’ is one of those terms.


Language matters. The way we use language – verbally and in print – expresses externally what our society and culture thinks about the person, animal or object we are describing.

The term ‘gamebird’ wouldn’t even exist were it not for shooting and hunting.

Historically it was used to ringfence a handful of birds that Kings and wealthy landowners took for themselves. Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Ptarmigan, partridges and pheasants. ‘Gamebird’ says ‘these are ours’. It is about property and ownership, not nature or science.

There is no basis in biology that justifies its use. Pheasants, partridges, and grouse are birds. Not ‘gamebirds’, just birds. Like the Robins in our gardens. When we use the term ‘gamebird’ we remove their individuality and their uniqueness. Changing them into something less than they really are. Collaborating with a long and bloody history of privilege and violence. Colluding with killing birds on what is now an industrial-scale.

‘Gamebird’ is a shorthand for cruelty, the persecution of birds of prey on shooting estates, the deaths of millions of mammals in traps and snares, and the seasonal slaughter of millions of birds.

As far as we are concerned, a bird is a bird is a bird. Not quarry, not bags, braces or pairs, and certainly not a ‘gamebird’.