Portugal has 22 bird species in danger of extinction

Conservationists are calling for an “urgent” ban on hunting as a new report shows that 22 species in Portugal and its archipelagos are now in danger of extinction.

The European Red List of Birds, compiled by Bird Life International and UCIN (international union of conservation) comes with a dire warning: “First the birds, then us. Unless we pay attention, we will be on the Red List next. Take note.”

It is not an empty threat. But as Portugal’s nature lovers and workers have long learnt, it is one that does not seem to concern governments.

Director of SPEA (Portugal’s bird study society) Luís Costa explained: “It is shocking that species that used to be common have diminished drastically over the years, continually ignored by political decision-makers.”

A solution in Portugal would be massively helped if hunting could be stopped, he added, describing the need for a suspension on hunting as “urgent”.

For now, SPEA can simply sound the alert, publishing the news of a report that highlights 533 species throughout Europe – and boils down to seeing one in eight species under threat.

Critically in danger in Portugal is the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), with Zino’s petrel (found in Madeira), the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) and the Azores bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina) classified as “in danger”.

Also under threat is the Iberian Imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) and Monteiro’s storm petrel (Oceanodromo monteirioi) – a tiny little sea bird that spends almost all its life in flight.

There is some good news, however. Some threatened species have “moved down a slot” in terms of how much they are endangered, explained Costa, which shows conservationists’ efforts can reap rewards.

Thus, one of Portugal’s flagship species that is strutting the Alentejan plains with much more confidence these days is the Great Bustard.

But the flip side is that birds that we used to view as “common” are now becoming less and less.

Costa highlighted particularly the turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur), Redwing (Turdus iliacus), Aythya duck, Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope), Northern pintail (Anas acuta) and the Song thrush (Turdus philomelos).

A bit of research on Youtube has discovered this last species has learnt a little about how to fight back.

The Song thrush has been known to “attack” hunters with its own faeces.

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