The common quail has been voted ‘Bird of the Year 2020’ in Portugal and Spain at a time when it is at risk of becoming endangered.
So says the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) which teamed up with the Spanish Ornithology Society (SEO) to organise the voting process as a joint Iberian initiative for the first time.
“Although it is still a common bird in Portugal, the quail may stop being common soon if measures are not implemented to stop the disappearance of the natural diversity of our fields,” SPEA says in a statement.
It adds: “Without a sustainable agricultural policy, the quail will surely follow the same path as other birds in agricultural areas: decline.”
Says SPEA, the quail’s distribution area has decreased 30% in the last decade in Portugal as a result of changes in agricultural practices.
“The expansion of monocultures and the disappearance of fallow lands and hedges reduces the available habitats for these and other birds,” the society explains.
Another factor that has taken its toll on the species is the increased use of herbicides and insecticides in agriculture, as these birds feed mostly on seeds, grains and small invertebrates.
The online voting took place this month and saw the common quail coming out on top with 7,930 votes ahead of the Montagu’s harrier (6,130) and the Iberian grey shrike (5,156).
Photo: JAN SVETLIK