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 has not been quantified, 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.
The global population size has not been quantified. In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 30-120 pairs, which equates to 60-240 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015), but Europe forms <5% of the global range.
The population is estimated to be increasing following recent records of range expansions (del Hoyo et al. 2004). The tiny European population is estimated to be decreasing (BirdLife International 2015).
This species occurs in desert or semi-desert, mainly in lowlands and is found on rocky or stony hill slopes and flanking escarpments. It avoids flat and sandy landscapes, although it is sometimes seen in undulating terrain with rocks and stones. It is mostly found in lowlands, but occurs to at least 2,000 m in mountains.
Egg-laying occurs from March to May in the north of the range and from February to April in the south. The species is monogamous and territorial. Both sexes build the nest which is placed on the ground beside a rock, grass tuft or small shrub, or in an exposed site. It is made from grass stems and other fine plant material, lined with softer material and with a rampart of small stones on the exposed side, or surrounded by small stones when in an open site. Clutches can be between one to five eggs. It has a mixed diet of small seeds and insects taken in highly variable proportions, according to area and season. Hard food items are broken against rocks or other hard surfaces before consumption. Chicks are fed mainly with insects. This species is mainly sedentary, although some irregular movements recorded and altitudinal movements occur in mountainous areas (de Juana and Suárez 2016).
The European population is on the edge of its world range, conditions may well be suboptimal for the species within the region making it particularly vulnerable to habitat change. Habitat degradation from factors such as irrigation, overgrazing and erosion are recorded in areas where the species is 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). The species only breeds in years of good winter rainfall in Kuwait (de Juana and Suárez 2016).
Conservation Actions Underway
There are no known conservation measures currently in place for this species at least within its European range.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Due to the restricted range of this species in Europe important sites should be protected, including legislation to guard them from development. Research into the species's ecology and habitat needs should be undertaken to inform future conservation measures as well as help assess potential threats and impacts in order to develop appropriate responses.
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ashpole, J, Ekstrom, J.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Ammomanes deserti. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/08/2020.