According to the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), the birth of these juveniles in a colony of about 3,000 flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) in one of the saltpans of the Nature Reserve of the Castro Marim Marsh and Vila Real de Santo António, proves the successful nesting of this species in Portugal.
According to the ICNF, this nesting and its positive result "may be confirmed next year and become a recurring situation, which would represent an important adaptation of the species to different conditions than those it has always had in the usual places, thus allowing the diversification of the nesting sites and the maintenance of the species population in the Mediterranean geographical area".
The ICNF also stated that in the Sado Estuary Natural Reserve and the Tejo Estuary Natural Reserve, "around 50 nests have been built in each one". However, either due to "alteration of the physical conditions that occurred in the sites, or because it was a very small number of couples, the nesting was not concluded" having occurred in these last two cases "abandonment of the sites".
The construction of nests by flamingos in Portugal has already been observed in Portugal since the late 1990s, in the main protected areas in wetlands, namely the Tejo Estuary Nature Reserve, the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve and the Nature Reserve of the Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António Marshland, however, their construction does not in itself mean confirmation of nesting, since "no young have ever been observed as being born in those places", they said.
According to ICNF, the collaboration of the Compasal company, the owner of the land that maintained "all the environmental and safety conditions" that allowed the nesting success, as well as people and entities that from the first hour "were aware of the ongoing process and kept the necessary discretion, not publicising the nesting processes and their location, thus avoiding possible disturbance caused by curiosity" contributed to this result.
Despite being a common winter bird in coastal wetlands from the Tagus estuary to the Algarve, nesting attempts had only been recorded in 2010, and before that, in the 1980s, both in the Algarve region, but without success.
According to ICNF, in recent years the flamingo population has been increasing in the country, even in wetlands where it was previously little observed, however, the species was still not nesting in Portugal, for unknown scientific reasons.
The decrease in human activity due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with the increase in feeding and resting areas for the species in Portugal - verified by nature monitors and technicians from ICNF's Centre for Migration Studies and Bird Protection - may have contributed to facilitating their successful reproduction.
Photos by: Agostinho Gomes