You’d better believe it. This one is not about counting humans, their houses or their cars – but about gulls, their nests and their chicks: the first census of urban gulls has only just begun. This citizen science initiative organised by the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), is asking all residents of Portugal to register online the gulls, nests and chicks to be found in their respective towns. All this information will contribute to the census of the yellow-legged gull. The main goal is an estimate of the number of breeding pairs and the distribution of its nesting areas.
“All sightings are important and will help us evaluate the current status of this species, which has over the past decades expanded its nesting areas, especially across urban settings”, says Nuno Oliveira, sea conservation officer with SPEA and the Lisbon-based coordinator of the initiative.
No shit, let’s play Sherlock Holmes in Portugal. In order to take part, participants grab their binoculars and, if possible, a ladder, arm themselves with pen and paper and follow the leads to nesting yellow-legged gulls in urban areas. Photos are also welcome. Before filling in the online form, choosing the relevant option, it’s important to check whether gulls are observed on their own or as a pair in a nesting habitat; gulls that are calling out and defending their territory; gulls that are incubating eggs or protecting their young; or whether there is no indication of gulls breeding in the area.
The initiative started on 1 May. However, gulls are still nesting in June and July, and if young gulls are spotted, the private bird detectives should note their exact number. Observations may be logged online up to 31 July. Those who keep their observations to themselves won’t incur a “multa”. All relevant information as well as the link to the form can be found at bit.ly/GaivotasUrbanas. (https://www.spea.pt/voluntariado/conte-as-gaivotas-da-sua-cidade/)
This counting of urban gulls is taking place as part of the “Involving Volunteers in the Monitoring of Bird Populations” project financed by the Active Citizens Fund (EEAGrants), made up of public funds from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, its Portugal section being managed by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Partex, petrol and natural gas) in consortium with the Bissaya Barreto Foundation. The partners of the project are Wilder – Rewilding your days and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). The data gathered from this initiative will contribute to the national census of the yellow-legged gull, a joint initiative by SPEA, the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), the Institute of Forests and Nature Conservation (IFCN, Autonomous Region of Madeira) and the Regional Directorate for Sea Affairs (DRAM, Autonomous Region of the Azores).
If you need more information on methodology, or have other questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 934 295 010.