The semi-desert island of Maio is a home to a large array of species including the Greater Hoopoe-lark (Alaemon alaudipes), the endemic Jago Sparrow (Passer iagoensis) and the White-faced Storm Petrel (Pelagodroma marina).

The Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) can be found across the entire island around different lagoons – Boca Lagoa, Lagoa Cimidor, Morro lagoon etc., but the largest resident population of the Macaronesian archipelago can be found in the Salina do Porto Inglês, Maio’s biggest and most important wetland site. This population has been studied for over 10 years, collecting vast amounts of data on its breeding ecology and parental care. Andreia Adrião and Sara Ratão, members of the FMB (Fundaçao Maio Biodiversidade) bird team, are carrying out weekley surveys of the Salina throughtout the year to gain a better understanding of the local population’s distribution and what threats it faces.

The study site is historically important as the natural salt extraction taking place there was the first economic activity on the island. It is a highly biodiverse protected area home to a large number of plant, bird and insect species and has recently been classified as RAMSAR wetland site. The study site is composed of three distinct habitats that are separated by a large water body – a sand-based grassy plateau, a long sandy section with sesuvium plants and a dry rocky area composed of volcanic rocks and acacia trees (Prosopis jullflora).

The Salina is not only home to the Kentish plover, but it is also a site where numerous migrant wader species stop over such as Greenshanks (Tringa nebularia), Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) and Common Ringed plovers (Charadrius hiaticula).

The island is also home to the Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor), found at several sites across the island, predominantly in sparsely vegetated rocky areas. This population has been monitored since 2015, starting in the Salina do Porto Inglês, then expanding to other sites across the island.

The major sites of importance for the Coursers are the Salina do Porto Inglês, Laja Branca, Barreiro, and Lagoa Cimidor. Laja Branca is part of the national park of the North of the island, and consists of a rocky terrain, with sparse Acacia bushes. This area is surrounded by large sandy plains and sand dunes. Barreiro and Lagoa Cimidor are also two rocky sparsely vegetated areas, however these two areas also surround small lagoons that are home to other species of shorebirds too. Lagoa Cimidor may seasonally exhibit more vegetation than the other sites, such as long grass.