Sado estuary

Country/territory: Portugal

IBA criteria met: A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, C2, C3, C4, C6 (2002)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 24,633 ha

Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves

Site description (2000 baseline)
A large estuary with extensive mudflats and saltmarshes, located in central Portugal, c.50 km south of Lisbon. Setúbal is the main town in its vicinity. The inner part of the estuary is bordered by rice-fields and reedbeds, whereas the north-western limits are densely populated and the south-western parts are sheltered from the open sea by a sandbar.

Key biodiversity
Several waterbird species (mainly waders) occur in winter in large, internationally significant numbers, and the site holds 20,000 or more wintering waterbirds on a regular basis. There are also important numbers of breeding waterbirds, notably Himantopus himantopus and Sterna albifrons. The rice-fields are an important feeding ground for the egrets and herons from the nearby breeding colony at Murta dam (024). More than 500,000 Columba palumbus roost within the IBA in winter.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Sado estuary. Downloaded from on 04/10/2023.