In the first cross-national vote of its kind, Portugal and Spain have elected Common Quail as Bird of the Year 2020.
The online poll was organised by the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) and the Spanish Society of Ornithology (SEO/BirdLife), with Common Quail (7,390 votes) fighting off stiff competition from Montagu's Harrier (6,130) and Iberian Grey Shrike (5,156).
Although Common Quail remains a numerous species in Portugal, it has declined by an alarming 30% over the last decade alone, largely due to changes in agricultural practice.
The story is a familiar one: the overall intensification of farming, including expansion of monocultures, disappearance of fallow land and the removal of hedges and field margins leave less and less available habitat for this and other typical farmland birds. Quails feed on seeds, cereal grains and small invertebrates, so the species has also suffered from the increased use of herbicides and insecticides.