Sardinian Warbler Curruca melanocephala


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 7,650,000-16,100,000 pairs, which equates to 15,300,000-32,100,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.60% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 25,500,000-53,500,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be increasing owing to a recent expansion of its breeding range. In Europe, trends between 1989 and 2013 were stable (EBCC 2015).

Distribution and population

This species ranges throughout the Mediterranean region, occurring in Portugal, Spain, Andorra, France, Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Western Sahara, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. The race norrisae of the Fayyum area in central Egypt has not been seen since 1939, and is now extinct (del Hoyo et al. 2006).


As probably one of the most generalist of the Mediterranean warblers, this species is present in all types of warm habitat at low altitudes, and up to c. 1,200–1,300 m in most of its range and up to 1,800 m in north-west Africa. It is found in maquis, garrigue, dry coastal habitats, urban and suburban environments, abandoned farmland and dry coast sites. It will also inhabit Mediterranean cultures such as olives, almonds, orchards, citrus groves, vineyards, but favours mosaic landscapes with hedgerows, bushes and stands of pine. It is also frequently found in holm oak (Quercus ilex) forests. Breeding occurs mainly from March to June. The nest is a grass cup placed usually 30–60 cm above ground in scrub or bush or, less frequently, among dense herbs or in a small tree. Most nests in Spain are in kermes oak (Quercus coccifera) at low height. Clutches are three to five eggs. It feeds mostly on arthropods but also takes a significant amount of fruit in the autumn and winter. Island and coastal populations appear to be mostly sedentary but the proportion of migrants increases inland and to the north, especially in the east (Aymí and Gargallo 2015).


Particularly in the north of its European range, extremely harsh winters can affect the survival of this species, in some cases with declines in breeding numbers of up to 50%. While it is thought global climatic warming could benefit this species in Europe, there is evidence it has caused a decline in body mass and body condition outside Europe (Aymí and Gargallo 2015).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within Europe.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitoring of this species should be carried out along with more detailed ecological studies (Pomeroy and Walsh 2002).


Text account compilers
Khwaja, N., Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Curruca melanocephala. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022.