Red-Billed Chough Project in Portugal

September 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

The Red-Billed Chough species falls under the crow family. It is easily recognized by its features that include a longish curved beak and red coloring, red legs and pitch-black plumages that glisten in the sun. They are known to mate for life and also remain at their breeding site. Nests can be found on cliff faces and caves. But concern has grown over an area in Portugal where there once was an abundance of Red-Billed Choughs, and nests were an ordinary sight. The surrounding area of Chaos has not recorded a sighting of a Red-Billed Chough in a long time, and steps are being taken to correct the loss of these birds in the area.

The herding of goats in the Chaos countryside was once a very active form of agriculture, but as the agricultural lands began to be abandoned, the vegetation and brush started growing at such a rate that the Red-Billed Choughs could no longer forage underneath the bushes as they used to, and the insects that used to breed in the goat excrement and provide these birds with extra nutrition are also no longer found here since the goats were removed. Efforts are therefore being made to revive the industry of goat herding to enable the Red-Billed Choughs to once again populate the area.

The project has enlisted the assistance of two candidates who herd the newly acquired goats, as well as monitoring the birds, natural herbs and orchids which are found in the area. To raise funds, the project has brought in a tourist angle, allowing visitors to Portugal to be goat herders for a day explore the beautiful landscape and receive a guided tour of the natural wonders and sites in the Chaos countryside. In addition, organic cheese production is a product that potential goat herders can invest in, especially as the project is incorporating tourism into their attempt to save the Red-Billed Chough population. It is hoped that the project will jumpstart the industry of goat herding and in doing so, provide the Red-Billed Chough with a habitat again. These endangered birds can be saved, with dedication from the project, assistance of the community and support from visitors and tourists. Tourists will be able to explore a new world while playing a vital role in saving the Red-Billed Chough in Portugal.