Rare and protected species among the marshes
The Ria Formosa Nature Park and the Sapal de Castro Marim Nature Reserve are outstanding ecosystems for bird life which uses the extensive areas of the marshes, or wetlands, and the saltpans to breed.
The purple swamphen, which looks more like a tropical bird, is the most emblematic of the protected species of the region, which is why it represents the Ria Formosa Nature Park.
A beautiful example of blue-black plumage, long legs, red beak and lower tail feathers in shades of white, the purple swamphen was, until recently, an endangered species.
Among the various birds which populate the Sapal de Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António, the black-winged stilt is the most common, and was chosen as a symbol for the Nature Park.
The edges of the saltpans and estuaries are its chosen habitat, where it feeds by burying its beak in the mud. The black-winged stilt is easily recognised by the exceptional length of its legs and by its characteristic of flying at low altitude with its legs stretched out behind it.
The elegant silhouette of the flamingos as they run on the water can also be seen among the saltpans and marshes which make up the landscape of the Castro Marim and Ria Formosa parks.
These nature reserves have wetlands which guarantee food for the pink flamingo, also known as the common flamingo, a species which, because of its specific diet, searches for water that is not too deep, but is moderately salty.