Asir Magpie Pica asirensis


Justification of Red List category
This species has a very small and restricted population. For this reason it is evaluated as Endangered.

Population justification
The population size was previously estimated at 135 pairs or fewer (270 mature individuals) (Symes et al. 2015, Babbington 2016). However, this has been considered to be highly optimistic, and the population is considered to now only hold approximately 100 annual breeding pairs (J. Babbington and P. Roberts unpubl. data in Boland and Burwell 2020). This roughly converts to 200 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species is thought to now be confined to small areas of high quality forest and appears to be declining, due to the species's range being heavily disturbed by land clearence, grazing, human development and disturbance, tourism activities and climate change bringing warmer and drier weather (Symes et al. 2015, Babbington 2016, Boland and Burwell 2020). However, the exact impacts and rates are currently unknown (Boland and Burwell 2020).

Distribution and population

Pica asirensis is found only in the highlands of south-west Saudi Arabia in Asir Province (Symes et al. 2015, Babbington 2016).


This species is sedentary within its restricted range, occurring in juniper forest in well-vegetated upland valleys and wadis from 1,850-3,000 m (Babbington 2016), although is most common above 2,150 m (Boland and Burwell 2020).


The juniper forests inhabited by this species are not regenerating and are being cleared for timber and fuel (Symes et al. 2016). The area is also being heavily disturbed by construction, tourism activities, road development and human disturbance, whilst climate change is bringing warmer and drier weather (Symes et al. 2015, Babbington 2016, Boland and Burwell 2020). Unregulated grazing from donkeys and goats are degrading prime habitat patches (Boland and Burwell 2020). The species may also over-consume food scraps left by locals and tourists on the side of the road, leading to lower reproductive productivity (Boland and Burwell 2020). The species is also trapped and hunted for the purpose of food, pet trade, and sports.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known.

Conservation Actions Needed
Monitor the population and its habitat to better understand its population size and trends. Protect remaining areas of habitat within its range.


Text account compilers
Fernando, E.

Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A. & Wheatley, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Pica asirensis. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/asir-magpie-pica-asirensis on 23/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 23/09/2023.