Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin Cercotrichas galactotes


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 decreasing, however the declines are not thought to be large enough 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.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 230,000-623,000 pairs, which equates to 460,000-1,250,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.10% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 4,600,000-12,500,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
The small European population is estimated to be decreasing by less than 25% in 11.4 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).


In Europe the species breeds mainly in artificial habitats such as olive and almond groves, vineyards, young pine (Pinus) plantations, citrus plantations, parks and orchards. On migration and in winter it is found in similar habitats, often around human settlements. The species breeds in Europe from mid-May to June and pairs in Spain are commonly double-brooded. In Morocco it is commonest in bushy vegetation (Tamarix, Nerium, Vitex) along rivers and is regularly found in open dry woodland (Tetraclinis, Argania, Juniperus, Quercus), on scrub-covered slopes with Olea and Pistacia or thorn bushes (Rhus, Acacia) and in gardens and orchards, especially where bounded by Opuntia cactus hedges. In the south it is more restricted to irrigated oases, palmeries and dry riverbed vegetation (Launaea, Ziziphus, Nitraria, Limoniastrum). In Tunisia it is commonest in cactus growth, orchards and oases whilst in Israel it is most often found in well-vegetated, naturally bushy areas with low scattered trees; palm groves and shrubs bordering fields or water-filled wadis in the Arabian Peninsula. In sub-Saharan Africa it favours dry bushy country with a sparse herb layer and short-grass areas with taller cover, thick, dry, almost closed-canopy woodland with heavy grass layer, semi-desert with Alhagi, Artemisia, Berberis and Acacia, wooded pasture, farmland, orchards, vineyards, fruit plantations, Opuntia thickets, aloe patches, tamarisk stands, semi-shaded gardens, palm groves, oases, open sand dunes with well-spaced shrubs and sparse tree cover. In Central Asia it is found in valleys with patches of shrubs and bulrush, penetrating scrubby dunes, bushes in saline and alkaline steppe, and lower reaches of juniper zones on hills. In Pakistan it breeds in scattered clumps of Saccharum cane grass, Tamarix and thorny bushes. The species breeds from mid-May to June in southern Europe and Kazakhstan, May-August in Armenia, April-August in Israel, mainly May-June in Pakistan and mainly May-June in Africa. The nest is a loose flat cup of dry grass stems, rootlets, twigs, bark and leaves, often incorporating shed snakeskin and lined with fine fibres, hair and feathers. It is built in dense vegetation, often spiny, in a reed clump, small tree (commonly Olea europaea or Pinus halepensis in SE Spain), shrub or grapevine or in a crevice in a building. When nesting on rubbish tips it shows a preference for human artefacts (e.g. oil drum, breeze blocks) over bushes. Clutches are three to six eggs (mean in SE Spain 3.6). It forages mainly on the ground, feeding on insects, spiders centipedes, millipedes and earthworms as well as fruit, berries and seeds. The minor and hamertoni races in Africa are sedentary. Other races are migratory, spending the winter in Africa (Collar 2015).


The population is modest in Armenia and semi-desert habitats there are under threat of agricultural and urban development. Populations in Spain have undergone steady declines and range contractions which may be attributable to droughts in the Sahel. Minor losses have been reported in Israel, owing to expansion of settlements and the use of certain crops (Collar 2015).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are no known current conservation measures for this species within its European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The conservation of suitable habitat for this species should be developed. Research into the species's ecology and monitoring programmes should be developed. Threat assessments should be undertaken to help develop conservation measures.


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

Dowsett, R.J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Cercotrichas galactotes. Downloaded from on 21/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/03/2023.