Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely 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 is extremely large, and hence does not 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.
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 10,300,000-21,900,000 pairs, which equates to 20,500,000-43,800,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.45% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 45,500,000-97,300,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
The population is estimated to be in decline following a number of recorded regional declines in recent decades (del Hoyo et al. 2004). In Europe, trends between 1996 and 2013 have been declining moderately (EBCC 2015).
This species occupies open plains, from steppes and pastures to extensive dry cereal cultivations and true steppe with dense grass cover. In the Mediterranean Basin it is mainly found in dry pastures and dry cultivations. In cultivated areas, it prefers fallows, long-fallows and field edges and to a lesser extent sown fields, selecting unirrigated legumes and barley fields. The species is monogamous and lays eggs from early April to July. The nest is made from grass stems and small leaves, lined with softer material and built in a shallow depression on the ground, often under a tussock. Clutches are usually three to six eggs (de Juana and Suárez 2004). Its diet is seasonal, feeding mostly on insects in the summers and seeds and grass shoots in the winter. Mediterranean populations are resident, forming large flocks in the autumn and winter (Snow and Perrins 1998, de Juana and Suárez 2004). Eastern populations are migratory or partially migratory (de Juana and Suárez 2004).
This species suffers declines due to agricultural intensification and the resultant land-use changes, for example the loss of fallows, changes from cereal crops to vineyards or olive groves and new irrigation (de Juana and Suárez 2004). The use of extensive sheep-rearing and afforestation schemes are also threats (de Juana and Suárez 2004). Hunting (Tucker and Heath 1994) and pesticide use (Papp and Fântân? 2008) may also have contributed to declines.
Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex I. Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within Europe.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Broad habitat conservation measures are required for this species. Traditional land-use practices should be maintained such as low-intensity cereal cultivation and low-intensity livestock rearing. Research should focus on the biological processes affecting the distribution and abundance of this species (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Melanocorypha calandra. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/01/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/01/2020.