The Navasecas Reed Buntings

2012_01_17 LN - Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) 02
Reed Bunting – male (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Continuing on from yesterdays entry about the Navaseca it was a pleasure to see there a pair of Reed Buntings. The male is a handsome bird, although my photo does not do him justice, whilst the female looks rather Sparrow like.

2012_01_17 LN - Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) 03
Reed Bunting – female (Emberiza schoeniclus)

The Reed Bunting was named Spanish Bird of the Year 2009 by SEO/Birdlife since it was found to be in serious decline here in Spain. This was following the results of a 2005 census indicating only 400 breeding pairs left in the country, and an attempt to highlight the plight of this species. The problem is that they require reed beds and wetlands for breeding and these have declined over the years and thus become isolated causing a decline in the gene pool with the obvious repurcussions brought about by inbreeding. This decline in suitable breeding areas and genetic loss has resulted in an 80% decrease in population on the Iberian peninsula. Apparently there are thirty subspecies in the northern hemisphere of which three subspecies of this bird exist on the Iberian peninsula.
Being so fragile a population with little ability to recover from catastrophic local events, we must do what we can to protect what few populations we have. Many of these small poulation nuclei, put at 37 individual sites, are in La Mancha where perhaps up to 100 pairs breed in the Tablas of Daimiel alone. Nothing can be done about natural disasters however such as a huge hailstorm in the Tablas in 2006 when the nests of the Reed Buntings were destroyed and even adult birds killed as a result. Events like this can wipe out a breeding area.
Hopefully this pair in the Navaseca will reproduce successfully and can help bring this beautiful bird back from the brink.
(Information taken from an El Mundo article Feb 2009)

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