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The stunning blue plumage of the European Roller shines at l’Empordà

The Endesa CORACIAS project, which is part of our Biodiversity Conservation Plan, promotes the conservation of birds like the European roller.

European Roller with an integrated gps

During the summer months, the European Roller covers the Mediterranean countries and part of eastern Europe with a beautiful range of blues: its blue plumage, typical of the family of tropical and subtropical birds to which it belongs, stands out for its beauty and spectacular colour. The birds spend the winter months hibernating in Sub-Saharan Africa, but summer is the breeding period, which is why they look for slightly cooler areas.

But the population of European Roller (Coracias garrulus) is declining worldwide, mainly through the drop in natural cavities in which to nest and agricultural intensification. Given this situation, at Endesa we saw the need to contribute to the conservation of birds in a specific way for this species. Since 2000, through Endesa Distribución, we have been installing artificial nest boxes, mainly on electricity pylons that cut across open rural areas. This task currently forms part of our Biodiversity Conservation Plan.

Our project focuses on the Parque Natural dels Aiguamolls de l‘Empordà (PNAE), a natural park that is home to one of the most important nesting areas for the European Roller in Spain. In this park, the Associació d'Amics del Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de l'Empordà, uses our support to carry out the field work and management of the nest boxes for the conservation of the birds.

Thanks to initiatives like these, in recent years, the level of conservation of the species has improved in Europe, going from being an endangered species, to having a considerable number of pairs, 75,000 and 158,000, according to BirdLife International figures from 2015. A significant figure, which accounts for 40% of the global population.

“Thanks to Endesa, the Coracias project is making steady and continuous progress. The summer months are when we carry out the most important field work, with the aim of identifying their movements in order to study the habitat selection.”

Cristina Fernández García, (APNAE) Biologist coordinating the Coracias project

Initiatives for the conservation of the European Roller

The project for applying and monitoring conservation measures for the European Roller in the Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls “is making steady and continuous progress”, explained the coordinating biologist, Cristina Fernández.

The most recent nests installed at the beginning of April are controlled by a five-metre tall Wi-Fi endoscope camera that transmits real-time images and records the activity in each nest. The aim is to establish the parameters of interest regarding the birds’ reproductive phase.

Three GPS tracking devices have also been attached to three pairs of European Roller from the PNAE, which will allow us to study their movements and the selection of their habitat. This will help establish the most suitable location for future nests. The European Roller chicks are also controlled by using a ringing technique and physical data are measured.

collage of some photos of the European Roller and the nests

The success of the project is measured in figures. This season eggs were laid in 26 nest boxes, 11 of which were new boxes installed this year and 16 in boxes installed in previous seasons. This success has resulted in a total of 91 successfully fledged European Roller chicks, which means an average of 3.5 chicks have survived for every clutch of eggs laid. These figures are only provisional, as there are still some eggs to be laid and these are still being monitored.

Apart from the European Roller, other species of interest that live in the PNAE and the surrounding area, such as the common kestrel and the Eurasian Scops Owl, have used the boxes this season to establish their nests and therefore, they have also benefited from this project.

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