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Barcelona, the city with 160,000 birds nesting around town

Eurasian Collared-dove (<i>Streptopelia decaocto</i>) in the Historical Building of the University of Barcelona.

Eurasian Collared-dove (Streptopelia decaocto) in the Historical Building of the University of Barcelona.

Coal tit (<i>Periparus ater</i>) in the Faculty of Biology.

Coal tit (Periparus ater) in the Faculty of Biology.

Tawny Owl (<i>Strix aluco</i>) in the Palau de Les Heures.

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) in the Palau de Les Heures.

Common Hooppoe (<i>Upupa epops</i>) in les Corts Cemetery.

Common Hooppoe (Upupa epops) in les Corts Cemetery.

European Greenfinch (<i>Carduelis chloris</i>) in Park of Espanya Industrial.

European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) in Park of Espanya Industrial.

This new work includes the description of the ecosystemic services each one of the nesting species brings to Barcelona.

This new work includes the description of the ecosystemic services each one of the nesting species brings to Barcelona.

This new Atlas will help the promotion of the preservation of these birds that breed around the city.

This new Atlas will help the promotion of the preservation of these birds that breed around the city.

31/10/2017

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There are around 160,000 birds of 83 different species – 10 non-native and 73 native- that nest in the urban area of the city and other areas in town, including the Serra de Collserola Natural Park. This bird population, a rich example of the biological diversity in the urban environment of the city, is shown for the first time in l’Atles dels ocells nidificants de Barcelona, a work promoted by the Barcelona City Council, the Catalan Ornithological Institute (ICO), the University of Barcelona and the Zoo Barcelona.

 

Barcelona, an urban landscape for birds


Birds are an added value to the city in several fields –control of insect pests, connection with nature, ornithological observation- and help to improve the conditions of the urban environment as a healthy and habitable place. In order to know these populations better, more than three hundred observers have collaborated from 2012 to 2015 to reckon the birds that nest in Barcelona, in an ambitious study on citizen science. The new study, resulting from a joint initiative by experts from the Faculty of BiologyBiodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) and ICO, presents the most precise urban ornithological cartography edited so far within Europe.

The new Atlas includes detailed information on each species, as well as illustrations of birds and their habitats, and maps to know where to find them. The pictures of the bird species, a work by the biologist and drawer Martí Franch, are framed in 83 urban landscapes which are typical of some districts in Barcelona, among which are the Historical Building, the Faculty of Biology and Palau de Les Heures of the UB. As a result, this work presents a series of added values –heritage, environmental management, educational, scientific and leisure values- which values the natural heritage and urban biodiversity in Barcelona.

Discovering nesting birds to protect them better

The 36 % of all bird species that nest in Catalonia, breed in Barcelona. Some native bird species, such as the blackbird, live in all parks and gardens, and others, such as the green woodpecker or the golden oriole, are less common and can only be found in Collserola and upper areas of the city. Other species find their shelter in gardens and trees in the streets –the tits- or in holes in buildings that can be similar to their natural habitat, like the case of swifts and the alpine swift. In addition, some of the birds that nest in Barcelona are considered as non-native, like the two waxbill species, the red-billed leiothrix, and six parakeet species. The monk parakeet, the rose-ringed parakeet, and the mitred parakeet, are the most abundant and common in the city, according to this work. This first Atlas puts emphasis on the detection of an Audonin’s gull colony –an endangered species a few years ago from now-, of some birds moving to the city (for instance the Eurasian jay) or their adaptation to breed in flowerpots or window boxes –such as the case of the white wagtail, among other species.

This new work will help the promotion of the preservation of these birds that breed around the city, populations which are specially threatened “due the growing presence of cats and dogs, reduction of insects due pesticides, and accidental crashes with mirrored glasses”, according to the lecturer Xavier Ferrer, from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences and IRBio.  

Discovering the benefits nesting birds bring to urban life

The University of Barcelona, tightly tied for decades to the world of Catalan ornithology, has played a main role in expert training, research and the museum preservation of natural and urban habitat bird populations. Within the framework of this work, the UB-IRBio experts took part in different parts of the work (scientific coordination, field work, consultancy, etc.) as well as in one of the most innovative views presented by the new Atlas: the description of the ecosystemic services each one of the nesting species brings to Barcelona (seed spreading, their singing, control of plant growth, insect removal, cultural icons, indicators of seasonal changes, organic waste removal, etc.). In particular, the UB has played an important role when obtaining funds for the project through a particular and business crowdfunding campaign.

This Atlas, edited in Catalan, Spanish and English, has the participation of the Serra de Collserola Natural Park, the Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia Consortium (CTFC), the Natural Sciences Museum of Barcelona, the Barcelona Public Health Agency and the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology. Other collaborating entities are the Barcelona Port Authority, the Rural Agents Body, the Swiss Ornithological Institute, the Czech Society for Ornithology, Aula Ambiental of Sagrada Família and Les Corts, Casa Orlandai and Fabrica del Sol, among others.

 

 

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