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). 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 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, is estimated to number 70,000-140,000 pairs, which equates to 140,000-280,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).
The population is suspected to be in decline in areas recently colonised by S. melanocephala (del Hoyo et al. 2006, BirdLife International 2015).
This species breeds in a rather wide range of scrub and maquis, favouring medium-height maquis, such as that formed by Cistus, Pistacia lentiscus, juniper (Juniperus) and cypress (Cupressus). It is also found in more sparse and lower scrubby vegetation, as well as openings in woodland, bushy areas with sparse tree cover, and open pine (Pinus) woodland with considerable amount of undergrowth. It will use rocky hillsides and agricultural areas, so long as there is enough bush cover present. In its non-breeding range it is also found in less vegetated areas in lowlands and coastal regions, it frequents dry and semi-arid areas with low scrubby vegetation, Ochradenus baccatus and Anabasis scrub, and wadis with scattered acacia trees (Acacia) and sparse scrub. Breeding occurs from late March to June. The nest is a strong cup of grass and stems bound with cobwebs, lined with finer grass, cobwebs and hair and often with juniper bark in the outer wall. Normally it is placed c. 30–120 cm above the ground, inside a low bush. Clutches are typically four to five eggs. It is thought to feed mainly on invertebrates but the diet is poorly known and it may take berries outside the breeding season. The species is a partial migrant, with most birds migrating to north-east Africa and the remainder making short-distance or altitudinal movements to the lowlands and coastal areas of Cyprus (Aymí et al. 2014).
The species is threatened by the abandonment of traditional grazing practices, the intensification of agriculture, homogenization of farmland and coastal and urban development (Ieronymidou et al. 2012). In addition the over use of pesticides could be a potential threat. It is also subject to pressure from liming, netting and shooting (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitoring of this species should be carried out along with more detailed ecological studies (Pomeroy and Walsh 2002). Farmland management needs careful targeting and the development of appropriate prescriptions, including incentives to preserve scrub vegetation and boundary features and to support extensive grazing (Ieronymidou et al. 2012). Legislation on hunting of the species should be enforced properly. The development of tourism should be strictly monitored and environmental impact assessments carried out for any new tourist or industrial projects (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Ashpole, J
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Sylvia melanothorax. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/04/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/04/2019.