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Location Portugal, Norte
Central coordinates 8o 47.00' West  41o 55.00' North
IBA criteria C6
Area 3,393 ha
Altitude 0 - 50m
Year of IBA assessment 2002

Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves

Site description The site borders Spain. In this estuary meets the Coura river. In the confluence of the two rivers there is a large area of reedbeds (Phragmites australis) and alluvial forest. Minho's estuary area presents an accentuated water salinity gradient, and includes saltmarshes, sand and mudflats and some islands with agricultural and cuttle breeding uses. Closer to Valença is also included the "veiga de São Pedro da Torre": a marsh humid area with a well-preserved alluvial forest.

Key Biodiversity Minho and Coura estuary is one of the two only North Region sites with these characteristics, beeing one of the few where Western Marsh-harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Little Bittern (Ixobrichus minutus) and Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) are found. Reedbeds and alluvial fores are also important for passerines migratory passage. Locustella luscinioides breeds in this area.During wintering season, the area holds important numbers of migratory seabirds e.g. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) and Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Ixobrychus minutus breeding  2001  frequent  C6  Not Recognised 
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea breeding  2001  1-2 breeding pairs  medium  C6  Least Concern 
Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus resident  2001  1-2 breeding pairs  medium  C6  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2005 low not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Alluvial and very wet forest; Broadleaved deciduous woodland; Mixed woodland  -
Shrubland Scrub  -
Grassland Humid grasslands  -
Wetlands (inland) Rivers and streams; Standing freshwater; Water fringe vegetation  -
Sea Sea inlets and coastal features  -
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  -
Coastline Lagoons; Mud flats & sand flats; Salt marshes; Sand dunes & beaches; Shingle & stony beaches; Tidal rivers & enclosed tidal waters  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
forestry -
hunting -
tourism/recreation -
urban/industrial/transport -

Protection status National Special Protection Area (Estuários do Minho e Coura, 3,393 ha overlaps with IBA); SIC proposal Rio Minho (4,554 ha, 2,472 ha contained by IBA) International HighSpecial Protection Area "Estuários do Minho e Coura"; SIC candidature Rio Minho.

References Farinha & Trindade (1994)Costa & Guedes (1996)

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Minho and Coura estuaries. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife