The latest census of the red kite in Mallorca confirms the upward trend of its population

Jan 26, 2022 | Current affairs, Featured, Revista Lloseta, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

The councillor for the Environment and Territory, Miquel Mir, the general manager of Endesa in the Balearic Islands, Martí Ribas, and the coordinator of the GOB Conservation Area, Toni Muñoz, took part this Tuesday in the release of a red kite (Milvus milvus) in the Caubet recreational area in Bunyola.

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The bird has recovered at the facilities of the Balearic Islands Wildlife Recovery Consortium (COFIB) from a trauma that prevented it from flying. Mir stressed that thanks to the collaboration of the GOB and Endesa, the bird will be fitted with a transmitter that will enable it to follow its movements and increase knowledge of the species.

“Birds of prey are an indicator of the state of health of a territory’s biodiversity, and it should be noted that the recovery of the red kite in Mallorca has been spectacular in recent years,” said Mir, who emphasised “the enormous task of the Department’s Species Protection Service and collaborating organisations”.

In this regard, the head of the Species Protection Service, Ivan Ramos, explained the results of the latest complete census of the species in Mallorca, carried out between 2019 and 2021, which confirm that the recovery of the red kite on the island is maintained the progression of recent years.

The census, carried out by the TAIB Association with the collaboration of the Environment Agents, determines that the red kite population in Mallorca occupies between 169 and 184 nests/territories. These data mean that the protected species has increased its presence on the territory since the last census, carried out in 2018, estimated a minimum of 135 breeding pairs.

Thus, out of a total of 416 field visits to monitor the breeding population of red kites, a total of 271 different nests/territories were monitored. Of these, a total of 184 different nests/territories were recorded as occupied during at least one of the three years. A total of 57 of these occupied nests/territories were new nests/territories. According to Ramos, “these figures illustrate a clear and continuous increase of the species’ population in Mallorca since monitoring of the breeding population began in 2013”.

Compared to populations elsewhere in Europe, the situation in Mallorca is quite remarkable, with a population density of 0.08 pairs per km2; higher than that of the mainland, which is 0.005 pairs per km².

The red kite is listed as endangered by RD 139/2011. In the latest revision of the IUCN Red Book of vertebrates of the Balearic Islands it is classified as “Near Threatened”. In the Spanish Red Book of Birds, it is listed as “Endangered”. Internationally, it is included in Annex 1 of the Birds Directive and in Appendix 2 of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species.

The Mallorcan population recorded a sharp decline in population numbers, being reduced in 1999 to only 4-6 breeding pairs. Although it is still legally threatened, it is recovering very satisfactorily and there has been a considerable geographical expansion.

The monitoring of the breeding population of red kites in Mallorca has been carried out since 2013 by the Environmental Agents under the coordination of the Species Protection Service.