Ankober Serin Crithagra ankoberensis


Justification of Red List Category
The species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a small population size and its habitat is threatened and declining. The species may require downlisting to Near Threatened if it is found to be very tolerant of habitat alterations occurring within its range.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population is considered to be in decline owing to the limited but increasing conversion and degradation of its habitat, although the rate of decline has not been estimated.

Distribution and population

Serinus ankoberensis has a very restricted range in the highlands of central and northern Ethiopia, being known from four locations in Amhara Regional State, northern Shoa Province: around Ankober, including Goshmeda, Kundi and a ravine south of Debre Sina (up to 60 birds per visit; EWNHS 1996, Shimelis 1999); Deneba Wereda (13 birds in one visit; Shimelis 1999); Koreta, a very small area within Guassa Reserve (more than 100 birds in this area alone during a two-week survey of the reserve; Shimelis 1999); and in Chennek Camp and Bhawit in Simien Mountains National Park (up to 50 birds or more per visit) (Shimelis 1999, Vivero Pol 2001). In 2002, 300 birds were found in three days between 2,800 and 4,300 m in the Abuna Yosef mountains (Wello region; J. Vivero in litt. 2003). The species may occur in all ecologically similar habitat throughout the highland massif of Amhara Regional State and parts of Tigray. It is likely the species is found all along the eastern mountain escarpments from Ankober to Simien, including Abuye Meda, Amba Farit, Mt. Guna and perhaps Choke Mountains (J. Vivero in litt. 2003).


This gregarious species occurs along the escarpment rim of the Ethiopian highlands (EWNHS 1996, Shimelis 1999) in open terrain that includes broken hill-tops, near-vertical cliffs, steep, vegetated slopes and earth banks. It prefers to perch on lichen-covered rocks, bare earth and short-grazed pasture, ploughed land and feeds on seeds of grasses and herbs (EWNHS 1996, J. Vivero in litt. 2003). A nest has been found inside a vertical hole underneath an overhanging earth bank. Very sociable, with birds roosting, perching and feeding together in groups of up to 60 individuals (Vivero Pol 2001, Clement 2016). Often found in company of, or loosely associated with, Streaky S. striolatus or Brown-rumped S. tristriatus Seedeaters (Vivero Pol 2001). Alights on no vegetation other than grass (Vivero Pol 2001). Breeding takes place between September and March, although it possibly breeds during any season following heavy rain (EWNHS 1996, Vivero Pol 2001). Clutch-size is three.


Much of the species's habitat is well-protected due to the steepness of the terrain. However, habitat in the Ankober area is under pressure from increased grazing and cultivation (EWNHS 1996, Vivero Pol 2001). Habitat encroachment is increasing due to grazing and cultivation of new lands, both aspects closely related to increasing human and livestock population. Eucalyptus plantations represent a serious problem in some areas.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Simien Mountains National Park offers reasonable protection for the species. Guassa Reserve (c.100 km2) is managed by the local community, who control grazing and the timing of grass-cutting within the reserve (Shimelis 1999). Otherwise there is little relevant conservation work in most of its range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue surveys to better determine the species's range, population size and trend. Assess possible threats. Search for this species in the eastern mountain escarpments from Ankober to Simien, including Abuye Meda, Amba Farit, Mt Guna, and perhaps Choke Mountains (J. Vivero in litt. 2003). Investigate the potential for a programme promoting community forestry, soil conservation and watershed management within its range (EWNHS 1996).


11cm. Small canary. Greyish-brown upperparts, heavily overlaid with dark brown streaking. Off-white underparts, with bold and heavy, dark brown streaking from throat to vent. Pale, fine, pointed bill. Similar spp. Streaky Seedeater S. striolatus is very much larger, with much larger bill. Voice Soft, nasal szhree contact call. High-pitched, trilling flight call. Hints Best known area is the cliff-face 2-4 km north of Ankober town, Ethiopia.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J., Shutes, S.

Vivero, J.L., Syvertsen, P., Ash, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Crithagra ankoberensis. Downloaded from on 23/09/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/09/2020.