The situation of birds in Spain is alarming, according to the latest update of the red book, which assesses their condition and whose last edition dates from 14 years ago. 25% of the 359 species analyzed are in extinction categories, some so much that their status is critical, as occurs, for example, with the black-tailed marlin with less than 50 reproductive specimens, or the carriage teal, whose population is residual, indicates the new Red Book of Birds in Spain, carried out by the SEO / BirdLife ornithological society with the support of the Ministry for Ecological Transition. The final balance is worse than that of 2007: 56% of the birds for which there is sufficient data have conservation problems, compared to 40% in the previous analysis.
Behind the decline of many species, climate change appears for the first time, which can cause displacements of species, changes in migrations and even high mortalities of adults and chickens due to climatic events, especially in late spring and early summer. Added to which are repeated negative factors such as contamination – the main problem that affects 76% of the species analyzed – followed by the alteration of ecosystems, intensive agricultural practices or hunting pressure.
In this context of decline, the worst thing is that not even “the 22 species recognized in the state catalog of threatened species – the imperial eagle, the gray teal, the Moorish coot, the white-headed malvasia, the Balearic shearwater, the bearded vulture and the Cantabrian grouse – It has the necessary legal coverage to ensure its protection ”, comments Nicolás López-Jiménez, head of the Species Conservation program at SEO / BirdLife. Of all of them, only seven have conservation strategies (government competence) and, of those that exist, only one of them, that of the Iberian imperial eagle, is up-to-date. The autonomous communities have not done their homework either, none have approved all the recovery or conservation plans for the endangered or vulnerable species that inhabit their territories.
Despite mismanagement, there is good news and some of the large raptors, which were seriously threatened in the previous red book, have made progress in their conservation, even though they still do not leave the categories that imply a certain risk. of extinction. There they are “the bearded vulture, the Bonelli’s eagle, the black vulture, the osprey, the Egyptian vulture or the black kite, and although the Iberian imperial eagle is still classified as endangered, the data of its gradual recovery are encouraging”, he points out. the study. “It is clear that conservation policies work, but they must be applied especially at a time when threats are increasing,” says López-Jiménez.
The new edition of Red Book of Birds in Spain analyzes more species, going from 179 to 359. Of these, 42% are classified as of least concern. Of those analyzed in 2004, only 24 managed to lower their threat level. On the contrary, the update indicates, 33 that were already classified as threatened worsen their situation, some as common as quail or partridge. Another 60 species neither improve nor worsen, they remain immovable in their level of threat, for example, the turtle dove that is still classified as vulnerable or the shag. In the list of bad news, three new birds have swelled the categories of greatest threat: the black-tailed marlin, the curlew and the common grouse and three others can be considered extinct: the hermit ibis, the Andalusian torillo and the marshland in Canary Islands.
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Almost a third of threatened birds live in wetlands or agro-steppes that do not stop their deterioration. Despite the obstacles, some species such as the common moor, the red duck or the white jar have managed to escape and have improved somewhat. Thus, the recovery capacity of the species is shown if the appropriate measures are adopted, the study points out. But, for now, “with 25% of the birds at serious risk of extinction, without the Administration designating enough protection areas or having them classified in the appropriate conservation category, the situation is not looking good”, points out Nicolás López.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.