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). The population trend appears to be increasing, 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 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.
Shirihai et al. (2001) estimated the population to exceed 10 million individuals, but in Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 17,300,000-27,800,000 pairs, which equates to 34,600,000-55,600,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.65% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 53,200,000-85,500,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
In Europe the overall trend from 1980-2013 showed a moderate increase (EBCC 2015).
This species occupies open country in a wide variety of landscapes, mostly sunlit areas with scattered bushes and shrubs close to grassy patches. It breeds in plantation clearings, orchards, hedgerows along roads or railway lines, shrubs near watercourses, pastures with junipers (Juniperus) and in steppes. It is also found in hedges around field crops, especially those of appropriate height such as cereals or lucerne (Medicago). It breeds mostly from April to July and generally lays four to five eggs. The nest is a fairly deep cup constructed from grass, leaves, rootlets, spider cocoons and hair and is concealed low down in a bush or tall grass (Aymí and Gargallo 2015). During the breeding season it feeds mainly on insects but in the late summer the proportion of fruit taken increases and in autumn and winter it feeds primarily on berries (Snow and Perrins 1998). The species is migratory and winters in sub-Saharan Africa (Aymí and Gargallo 2015).
In the past, central and western populations have declined due to drought in the Sahel zone of west Africa from 1968–1975. Human pressure in the Sahel region has led to increased desertification. In Europe, suitable breeding habitat has been lost to changes in land use through the intensification of agriculture, combined with the destruction of hedgerows and bushes (Aymí and Gargallo 2015). The species is also sensitive to severe winters, such as that of 1968-1969 (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).
Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within Europe.
Conservation Actions Proposed
The maintenance or increase of structural heterogeneity of linear habitats may be beneficial for this species (Szymański and Antczak 2013).
Text account compilers
Symes, A., Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Sylvia communis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/06/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/06/2020.