CORONAVIRUS has forced the suspension Fuente de Piedra’s annual flamingo banding.

With 1,400 hectares, Fuente de Piedra is home to the largest colony of flamingos on the Iberian Peninsula, and the second-largest in Europe after France’s Camargue.

As reported by the territorial delegate of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Fernando Fernandez Tapia-Ruano, this season has seen the birth of 6,030 chicks, however the ringing has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bird ringing sees a small, individually numbered metal or plastic tag attached to the leg or wing of a wild bird to enable individual identification.

It allows scientists to keep track of the birds and their movements and population numbers.

Fernandez has indicated that the chicks have been counted by aerial photographs and the exact number of breeding pairs will be obtained when the nests are recorded.

The yearly task of ringing the chicks involves some 500 people. Due to coronavirus, the Ministry has determined that the bird banding will not take place this season.

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Fuente de Piedra sees a significant presence of flamingos from colonies in France, Italy, Sardinia, the Ebro Delta, Algeria and even Turkey.

Since its start in 1986 and until 2019 there have been a total of 26 bandings, involving 19,578 chicks.

The years the flamingos have not bred has been due to insufficient rainfall.

The control of the ringed flamingos has revealed that 80% of them were born in Fuente de Piedra.

There is also a significant presence from colonies in France, Italy, Sardinia, the Ebro Delta, Algeria and even Turkey, meaning that a good number of breeding flamingos from the Mediterranean and Northwest Africa are nesting in this Malaga wetland.

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