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SPEA Holding Manta (Buzzard) Survey


The Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), is holding their annual Manta Census on the 2nd and 3rd of April. 

Their official statement, reads….

An initiative that aims to contribute to assessing the state of the population of this diurnal bird of prey present in the Madeira archipelago.

It is already a month from now that another annual census of one of the most emblematic birds in the region will take place. Today, World Wildlife Day, SPEA calls for participation in this citizen-science initiative. This event aims to commemorate the diversity of species, also warning of the dangers that threaten the world’s fauna and flora.

The Census of Mantas, which takes place annually in the Madeira Archipelago (Madeira and Porto Santo) and also in the Azores, allows the monitoring of the population of this species, which is known as kite or buzzard in the Azores, or Manta in Madeira and Eagle-d’ round wing in mainland Portugal.

The manta ( Buteo buteo harterti ) is a subspecies that only exists in Madeira, easily identified from a distance by its characteristic flight. It often soars in circles at high altitude, utilising the updrafts of warm air. It can be seen all over the island of Madeira, from forested areas to coastal areas, through pastures and even in urban areas. It feeds mainly on rodents, but can also consume small birds, insects and earthworms. Poisoning and electrocution in electrical lines are the main threats affecting this bird.

“The Census of Mantas has been carried out every year since 2006 and counts with the participation of dozens of volunteers. The populations of this species have been monitored over the years, with the effort of more than 550 volunteers who have been traveling around Madeira and Porto Santo for 16 years in search of these birds”, says Cátia Gouveia, SPEA coordinator Madeira. “The involvement of new volunteers is crucial for us to cover a greater area. Everyone is welcome as this bird of prey is easy to identify, so no bird watching experience is needed.”

In 2021, with the help of about 70 volunteers, the manta population was estimated at 337 birds for the Madeira Archipelago, showing a a slight decrease since 2019.

To participate in the census, simply register by emailing and pre-define your route, which can be done on foot, bicycle or by car.

On March 16th, SPEA will hold a free webinar on both the Manta Census and other citizen science initiatives in Madeira and the Azores. Registration will open soon on the SPEA website ( ).

Samantha Gannon

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Photo: Bob Brewer on Unsplash 

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