Common Linnet Linaria cannabina


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.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 17,600,000-31,900,000 pairs, which equates to 35,100,000-63,700,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.65% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 54,000,000-98,000,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe, trends between 1980 and 2013 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (EBCC 2015).


This species inhabits lowland open heaths and commons, moorlands and hills with scattered trees and light woodlands, open rocky hillsides, mountain slopes, alpine meadows and maquis or valleys with low shrubs. It is also found in woodland and forest clearings and edges, edges of cultivation, fallow fields, scrub and weed patches, plantations, orchards, vineyards, hedgerows, parks and large gardens. During the non-breeding season it also occupies coastal dunes, saltmarshes and shingle banks. Breeding occurs from mid-April to early August and it lays four to six eggs. The nest is built mostly from small twigs, plant fibres and down, roots, moss, animal fur and feathers and is placed low down, in dense bush or shrub, usually in a thorn bush or a hedge or conifer sapling. It feeds mainly on small to medium-sized seeds as well as buds and some invertebrates. The species is resident, migratory and partially migratory. Southern European, Mediterranean and Atlantic island races which are entirely sedentary (Clement 2016).


The species declined over much of central and north-west Europe in the late 20th century due to the intensification of agriculture, resulting in destruction of hedgerows, improved harvesting of cereals, and the eradication of fallow and weedy fields through application of herbicides (Clement 2016). It is not known if climatic factors are driving the southward range contraction in Finland (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. The species is listed on the national Red Lists of the U.K. and Ireland (Lynas et al. 2007, Eaton et al. 2009). In some countries in southern and eastern Europe, the species has declined less due to the maintenance of traditional farming methods (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).

Conservation Actions Proposed
The species would benefit from the maintenance and promotion of traditional low-intensity farming methods in Europe. The widespread use of herbicides should also be minimised. Research into the effects of climate change would also help inform conservation measures.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Ashpole, J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Linaria cannabina. Downloaded from on 25/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/09/2023.