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November 2019
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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

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.

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] or call +351 914 212 449.
- If you are in the archipelago of Madeira, send your route to catia.gouveia[at] or call +351 967 232 195.

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] 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] or via post to SPEA Madeira - Travessa das Torres, 2 A; 9060 – 314 Funchal.


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  1221 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.

Photos: © Joaquim Teodósio/SPEA
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