Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very 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 decreasing, however the population is not thought to be declining sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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 1,000-3,000 pairs, which equates to 2,000-6,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.10% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 20,000-60,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing by at least 10% in 17.4 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). The remainder of the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.


This species inhabits riverine or lacustrine areas with trees or scrub, and irrigated semi-desert with flushes of annual grasses. Outside breeding season in cultivated land. Unusually for the genus, it has no association with built-up areas or habitations. It breeds from March to July. The nest is a large ovoid structure, domed and with an entrance spiralling down from top. It is strongly constructed from dead twigs, lined with feathers and plant down and built openly in the branches of a tree, often a dead tree standing in water. Clutches are three to five eggs. The diet is primarily seeds and it specializes on the smaller seeds of grasses, rushes and sedges, shrubs and trees. The species is migratory and partially migratory (Summers-Smith 2016).


Habitat degradation from factors such as irrigation, overgrazing and erosion as well as are recorded in areas where the species in present (Ozturk et al. 2012) and may be a threat to this species. The use of pesticides may also be a problem (Ozturk et al. 2012). In Cyprus, a local extinction occurred at a lake near Akrotiri in the 1980s when the lake dried out (Summers-Smith 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within Europe.

Conservation Actions Proposed
No conservation measures are currently needed for this species within its European range.


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

Thomas, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Passer moabiticus. Downloaded from on 02/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 02/12/2022.