The Roccolo

Roccoli (bird snares) were used to catch birds for many years. They were used for migratory birds during the period from September to early November and are easily recognisable within a wooded landscape because of the tower at the edge of an oval clearing, surrounded by a double row of trees.

Jacopo da empoli, dispensa con uccellagione e pollame, ante 1621 © Sailko su licenza CC BY-SA 4.0

Roccoli are a kind of large trap. A net of around three metres high is hung up within the corridor formed by the trees. The snare is then baited with call-birds, whose cages are hung from the trees. When the roccolo watcher deems that a sufficient number of birds have been drawn in, he triggers the trap by emitting a shrill cry similar to that of a raptor and throwing a bird scarer (in the shape of a bird) from the window of the hut. 

The frightened birds try to escape, flying low and becoming trapped in the nets. This form of hunting has been banned in Switzerland since the late nineteenth century.