Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The European population is estimated at 7,500-20,000 pairs, which equates to 15,000-40,100 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms <5% of the global range so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is approximately 300,000-800,000 mature individuals.
The species is declining owing to over-hunting and, locally, habitat loss caused by agricultural intensification (del Hoyo et al. 1994). In Europe the population size trend is unknown (BirdLife International 2015).
The following information refers only to the species's habitat use in Europe. The species is found in predominantly dry, open country with scrubby cover (Tucker and Heath 1994). It uses steep slopes, rocky areas and arid hillsides, stony terraces, unimproved agricultural land, open or degraded maquis and woodland, including open pine forest (Tucker and Heath 1994, McGowan and Kirwan 2013). The species lays between March and May although eggs have been reported in December on the Canary Islands (Clark 2006, McGowan and Kirwan 2013). It can lay six to twenty seven eggs (Znari 1998). It breeds earlier in the lowlands than in the mountains. In very dry years it may not breed at all in semi-arid habitats (McGowan and Kirwan 2013). The nest is a depression in the ground which is usually lined and sheltered by long grass, bushes or boulders (Madge and McGowan 2002, Mocci Demartis and Massoli-Novelli 1978). It has a varied diet but predominantly feeds on leaves, shoots, fruits and seeds of a wide range of grasses and herbs with insects such as ants forming an important supplement. The species is mainly sedentary (McGowan and Kirwan 2013).
The main threat in Europe is hunting. In Sardinia regulatory measures exist but are not enforced due to a sufficient number of wardens. In the Canary Islands the remaining population is restocked annually to enable sport hunting (McGowan and Kirwan 2013), however this increases the risk if introducing disease and genetic contamination. In Europe, other threats are intensive use of pesticides, outbreaks of fire and the abandonment of cultivated land (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex I, II and III. Mace Lande: Safe. The reinforcing of populations continues, such as in the Canaries where local populations are restocked annually to accommodate sport hunting. In Gibraltar, over 200 birds hatched locally from eggs supplied from northern Morocco were released progressively in 2014; Prior to this habitat improvement measures, involving scrub clearance, and cat control, preceded the releases (McGowan and Kirwan 2013).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Proposed conservation actions in Europe include enforcing legislation where it exists and creating protected areas where shooting is banned to provide safe areas and preserve suitable habitat. In the Canaries a moratorium on hunting should be introduced for one or two years to allow numbers to recover. Low-intensity farming should be promoted to protect and restore suitable habitats (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Alectoris barbara. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/08/2020.