Rock Bunting Emberiza cia


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.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 1,930,000-4,230,000 pairs, which equates to 3,860,000-8,460,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.50% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 7,700,000-16,900,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe, trends between 1998 and 2013 show that populations have undergone a moderate increase (EBCC 2015).


The species utilises semi-arid, sparsely vegetated areas at lower and middle altitudes. It prefers sunny hill sides with rocky outcrops and scattered bushes or trees. Locally it also occurs in quarries, vineyards and other terrains with an alternation of bare soil or rocks and sparsely vegetated areas (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997, Copete 2016). The breeding season starts in March and ends in August, although occasionally it finishes in mid-September. The nest is built by the female. It is placed on the ground, protected by vegetation or at the base of a rock. The clutch, usually three to five eggs, is incubated by the female. The chicks hatch after 13–15 days. They are fed by both parents. They leave the nest after 9–13 days and become independent three weeks later (Copete 2016). The species feeds mostly on a wide variety of small invertebrate prey during the breeding season. Outside the breeding season the diet consists mainly of seeds of herbs or other plants. Northern populations are partly migratory with some short to medium distance movements southwards in cold winters (Copete 2016).


Habitat loss as a consequence of agricultural intensification, urbanisation and reforestation led to a decline in the past between 1970 and 1990 (Copete 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within its European range.

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., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Emberiza cia. Downloaded from on 21/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/02/2024.