The population of Barn Owls in Portugal targeted by the first national census

In a statement sent to the Lusa agency, the University of Évora (UE) revealed that the initiative takes place between this month and June and that all interested parties can participate.

“We can all help count the barn owls,” encouraged the Alentejo Academy, pointing out that the population of this type of bird “is decreasing in Portugal, like other birds typical of agricultural areas.”

The first national census focused specifically on this bird, launched by the EU Ornithology Laboratory (LabOr-MED) and SPEA, will serve to "better understand the distribution and abundance of this species" in Portugal, a- he explained.

Organizers said interested people can participate in two ways, one of which is to "report 'online' where they see or hear barn owls".

The other is through participation in the "Fins de Semana das Corujas" event, which will take place in March, on the 3, 4 and 5 and on the 10, 11 and 12, the organization said, pointing out that at that moment, "All Portugal will come out into the streets at night to hear the unmistakable sound of this bird".

"The data collected in this census will help specialists to better assess the status of the species in our country," the EU said.

According to the academy, over the past decade “the barn owl has disappeared from around half of the area it used to occupy in mainland Portugal”.

"On the islands, there are no more barn owls in the western half of Madeira, nor in the Desertas Islands," he added.

SPEA's NOCTUA – Portugal program, which has involved volunteers in monitoring nocturnal birds since 2009, also reveals a downward trend for this species over the same period.

Quoted in the press release, Inês Roque, researcher at LabOr-MED and member of the coordination of the working group on nocturnal birds of the SPEA, notes that "this negative trend of barn owls is visible on the Iberian scale".

“And this could be linked to the disappearance of nesting sites and changes to our agricultural areas, such as the conversion of traditional crops to intensive crops,” he pointed out.

The Barn Owl is one of seven nocturnal birds of prey that exist in Portugal and can be found in agricultural areas, sparse forests and urban areas.

“Adapted to being close to people, the barn owl often nests in buildings and the same place can be occupied for decades. Therefore, it is enough to be aware of the region where you live to be able to participate, because this species has a very easy to identify vocalization,” the EU said.

For more information on the census, interested parties can visit the website https://corujadastorres.uevora.pt/, where an educational kit specially created to encourage the participation of schools and organized groups is also available and can be downloaded.

The National Barn Owl Census is part of the projects 'Science for All: Sustainability and Inclusion (SCIEVER)', funded by the European Commission, and 'Citizen Science — involving volunteers in monitoring barn owl populations. 'birds', funded by the Active Citizens Program/Active Citizens Fund (EEAGrants).


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