Justification of Red List Category
Although this species may have a restricted range, it is not believed to 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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very 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.
The breeding population, which is confined to Europe, was estimated to number 3,300-13,500 pairs, which equates to 6,700-27,100 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Further information from Georgia suggests the number of pairs there may be 500-3,000 (B. Verhelst in litt. 2017), which would put the breeding population in the range of 3,300-16,000 pairs. This equates to 6,600-32,000 mature individuals. The population is therefore placed in the band 6,000-32,000 mature individuals.
The population is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015).
The species is endemic to the Caucasus where it is found in the Alpine and sub-Alpine zones of the High Caucasus and neighbouring mountain ranges. Birds use mountain slopes with rocky outcrops, alpine meadows, clumps of bushes and patches of melting snow (Tucker and Heath 1994) but avoid forest, scrub and large areas of snow cover (McGowan 1994). It is generally found at altitudes of 2,300 to 4,000 m (Tucker and Heath 1994) and occasionally from 1,800 m. The start of courtship can vary between years but usually takes place from early April. Laying occurs between late April and July with five to eight eggs laid. It nests in the open or under rock overhangs. Birds feed mainly on plant material including leaves, fruits, stems and tubers. Their diet changes over the year depending on availability of the different plant parts; feeding on dry material in autumn and winter and shoots and other materials when available (McGowan 1994). Birds perform seasonal altitudinal migrations moving to lower altitudes to overwinter (Tucker and Heath 1994) and higher altitudes post-breeding (McGowan 1994).
The species is threatened by habitat degradation caused by overgrazing by domestic stock (McGowan 1994), and it is also hunted within its range (B. Verhelt in litt. 2017).
Conservation Actions Underway
Mace Lande: Safe. The species was included on USSR Red List in 1978. In Turkey, it occurs only in Artvin and hunting has been banned. It is also found in at least three protected areas, the Tebezdinsky Reserve in Russia, the Zakataly Reserve in Azerbaijan and the Lagodechy Reserve in Georgia. The species also occurs in Caucasus Endemic Bird Area (McGowan 1994).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Important areas should be identified and protected from over grazing. Population monitoring and species research should be undertaken to inform future conservation research.
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Westrip, J., Ashpole, J, Butchart, S.
Ugrekhelidze, M., Verhelst, B.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Tetraogallus caucasicus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2019.