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As I strolled round the maize fields and pine forests this week, I could hear the birdsong pouring from that pretty throat - a metallic, clear 'sleee' call.But that call may not have come from one of the thousands of ortolans that fly through this farmland every August and September on their migration to north Africa.After being captured, the birds - which weigh less than an ounce - are fattened up on millet while being kept in the dark for a month.Roman emperors and French kings used the same practice on the little birds: disorientated by the darkness, they eat for 24 hours a day.Once he'd swallowed his second songbird, according to witnesses, he sat back in his chair, his face wreathed in ecstasy.
'It's absolutely delicious: rather crunchy, with the texture and flavour of hazelnuts,' says leading French food writer Francois Simon.
Former French President Francois Mitterrand chose to die in a remote rural spot, hundreds of miles from the Elysee Palace in Paris where he had once dominated French politics.
Here in Landes, in south-west France near Bordeaux, there are only maize fields and pine trees as far as the eye can see; a calm, isolated place to contemplate your life - as Mitterrand did in his final days, dying of prostate cancer at the age of 79 in January 1996.
Each tiny bird can fetch more than £120 when sold to restaurants.
It's not illegal to eat an ortolan, but it is illegal to trap or sell one.