Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia


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 stable, 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 2,140,000-4,620,000 pairs, which equates to 4,290,000-9,230,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.20% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 21,450,000-46,150,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe, trends between 1998 and 2013 show that populations are stable (EBCC 2015).


The species is normally found in bare treeless country, ranging from flat desert steppe to rocky slopes and ravines. In Spain, it is common in open woodland or parkland, such as of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster). It also often forages in large open areas of cultivation, vineyards, olive groves, near old buildings and even penetrates into human settlements. It breeds from March to August in loose colonies or isolated pairs. The nest is an untidy structure, sometimes domed and made from grass, lined with feathers, animal hair and wool. It is set in a crack or crevice in a rock or tree, or in a wall or roof of an isolated and ruined building or occasionally in an occupied building. Clutches are four to seven eggs. The diet is mostly seeds of low herbs and grasses, as well as small berries and it also takes animal matter in the breeding season, such as termites (Isoptera) and beetles (Coleoptera). The species is resident and a partial migrant, with some post-breeding dispersal and descent to lower altitudes in the winter (Summers-Smith 2016).


Declines in the Canary Islands are considered due to competition from the introduced Passer hispaniolensis (Summers-Smith 2016).

Conservation actions

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

Conservation Actions Proposed
No conservation measures are currently needed for this species.


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Petronia petronia. Downloaded from on 06/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/12/2022.