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Our Mission
SPEA is an Environmental not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support research and conservation of wild birds and their habitats, by promoting sustainable development for the benefit of future generations.
Home  > Study and conservation > Birds Census > Common Buzzard Census
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Common Buzzard Census
This project, coordinated annually by SPEA, aims to gather basic information about the resident common buzzard's populations of the archipelago of Azores and Madeira.
In the Azores, this species is locally known as “Milhafre” or “Queimado” Buteo buteo rothschildi, however in Madeira it is known as “Manta” Buteo buteo harterti.
Unlike others, this species hasn’t been subject to detailed biological studies; therefore this initiative is essential, given its important role in our ecosystems as a pest control agent, namely controlling rat’s populations.
This activity is open to everyone interested in contributing to gather further scientific data about this species. This initiative is called Citizen Science.


Common Buzzard Census (2006 to 2016)

 Archipelago Birds Observed
Volunteer Effort
Routes Distance (km)
 Azores 5 6761 64674017 568
 Madeira 9214471986 696
 Total 6 5972 09393824 265

How to collaborate / Methodology

The Common Buzzard’s Census takes place once a year, during a weekend of March or April in both archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira (exception made to Flores Island and Corvo where there are no common buzzards).
Become a citizen scientist for a day, while enjoying a walk with your friends and family and participate in the counting’s! The data to collect is simple and requires no specific knowledge, except knowing how to identify a common buzzard!

To participate you only need to:
1. Select and define the route that you intend to do on the weekend of the Census and send us a description of it previously. Thus, we can avoid overlapping of the routes. (The total length of the route is up to you. SPEA recommends doing different tracks of 20 km each).
- If you are in the Azores islands, send your route to acores[at]spea.pt or call 914212449.
- If you are in the archipelago of Madeira, send your route to catia.gouveia[at]spea.pt or call 967232195.

2. On the Census's weekend complete the route chosen and record all the common buzzards observed, in the Census form;

3. How to fill in the forms:
- register the initial and final kilometer of your route (SPEA recommends placing your car’s odometer to zero, or what indicates on the panel, at the beginning and at the end of the route)
- register every kilometer in which you observe common buzzards;
- register the distance at which you saw the common buzzards: less than 50 m, between 50 and 200 m, between 200 and 500 m, or more than 500 m (SPEA's suggestion is to use as a reference: the distance between two power poles is about 100 m);

4. After completing the Census, send us the completed form and if possible a map of your route:
- If you are in the Azores islands, via e-mail to acores[arroba]spea.pt or via post to SPEA Azores - Apartado nº 14; 9630-000 Nordeste; São Miguel, Açores
- If you are in the Madeira arquipelago, via e-mail to catia.gouveia[at]spea.pt or via post to SPEA Madeira - Travessa das Torres, 2 A; 9060 – 314 Funchal.


Documents
  • Common Buzzard's Census Report (2006 to 2016)
  • Census 2017 Form
  • Census 2017 Volunteer identification to use on you car - Azores - Madeira
  • Census 2017 Poster - Azores- Madeira
  • Brochure
  • Census Survey
  • Definition of the route – send us an email to acore[at]spea.pt (for routes in Azores) or catia.gouveia[at]spea.pt (for routes in Madeira) with your name, telephone or mobile phone, the island you are in, the route you choose, and the day or days you are planning to make it.

Contacts

- Rúben Coelho (Açores): acores[arroba]spea.pt; 914212449
- Madeira: madeira[arroba]spea.pt; 967232195





Importance and Goals of the Project

The Common Buzzard's Census was initiated in 2006, under the coordination of SPEA, and counted with the contribution of 1 030 volunteers to date, in order to gather information and population numbers of the species, in both archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira.
Given the size of the archipelagos, only with the help of the population it was possible to obtain this amount of information over the years.
SPEA intends to maintain contact with these citizens, focusing also on the recruitment of new participants and increasing collaboration in the islands with a lesser degree of adhesion. Furthermore, we plan to use statistical programs to analyze the data gathered by the volunteers. This way returning Science to the Citizen!
The common buzzard can be observed everywhere: in forests, coastal areas, grazing and even in urban areas. It feeds mostly on rodents and its survival is threatened by human persecution, poisoning or electrocution in power lines.
With a wingspan ranging from 110 to 130 cm, the common buzzard can be seen alone or in groups, flying, hovering, landed on the ground, over fences, walls, above electric or telephone wires or poles.


Results

Since its beginning, the Common Buzzard's Census has counted with the participation of 1 030 volunteers in both archipelagos. Since the begining, 6 597 buzzards have been recorded in the 24 265 km covered in the total of 938 trails done.
In general, there have been volunteers in all islands; however a low participation in São Jorge, Pico, Santa Maria and Graciosa has been registered and in the Madeira archipelago a very low participation in Porto Santo .
The data collected by the volunteers will also enable us to identify some features about the biology of the common buzzard, such as its behavior and preferred habitats.
Most individuals were observed flying. This is, undoubtedly, a frequent behavior and the one that most facilitates their observation.
Regarding the habitat, they were mainly seen in pastures and forests. These are excellent feeding grounds for the common buzzard and also an easy spot to observe them. Urban areas and crop fields are also used by this species, although to a lesser extent.
It must be taken into account that these results are a reflection of the routes made on each island, of the data available for the analysis, the mileage and the number of volunteers / citizen-scientists.

In the future, we intend to recruit more volunteers in order to have more transects in all the islands. The collected data will be analyzed through the use of statistical software to obtain a more reliable estimate of the number of common buzzards in each island of both archipelagos.




See the videos of the reports made by RTP and SIC Internacional





Photos: © Joaquim Teodósio/SPEA
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