VU
Scissor-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourii



Taxonomy

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - A2ace+3ce+4ace

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Vulnerable A2ace+3ce+4ace
2016 Least Concern
2013 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type Average mass -
Distribution

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 9,410,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 11,500,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 30000-67000 poor suspected 2021
Population trend Decreasing suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) 30-49 - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) 30-49 - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 3.85 - - -

Population justification: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) place the population in the band 10,001-100,000. A single roost of 36,000 birds was reported from Senegal in 2008 (Pilard et al. 2011) and a further 10,000 birds at a roost in Mali in 2012 (Buij et al. 2013). In the absence of information from other parts of the range, the population is suspected to be c. 46,000-100,000 birds, roughly equating to 30,000-67,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification: Roadside surveys in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from 1969-2004 revealed population declines of 84% in unprotected areas for this species (Thiollay 2006), equating to 47.3% over three generations (11.55 years [Bird et al. 2020]). Numbers in protected areas also declined (by 66% over three generations), but this decline was not statistically significant (Thiollay 2006). Declines of 40-50% from 1973-2000 were also reported in Cameroon (Thiollay 2001), equating to 25.4% over three generations (further surveys of the same routes during 2007-2010 suggested that average encounter rates had increased by 77% since the original surveys, although this result was strongly influenced by a single high count on one transect [R. Buij pers. comm.]). Combining the results of these two studies, weighted by the area occupied by the Scissor-tailed Kite in each country, the species appears to have declined by 5.4% p.a. in West Africa during the 1970s-2000s, equating to 47% when projected over three generations. 

There is very little information available on population trends further east in the species's breeding range or in its wintering range. Declines are thought to be predominantly due to degradation of arid ecosystems and wetland forests resulting from expanding cultivation, woodcutting and overgrazing by livestock (Buij 2013), alongside improved locust control measures and use of pesticides (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). These factors have led to extremely low nesting success in Cameroon (17%) and Senegal (4%) (Buij et al. 2013). As these pressures are ongoing and widespread throughout the Sahel (Walther 2016), it is suspected that population declines are occurring throughout the species’s breeding range. In Kenya, no Scissor-tailed Kites were recorded during road surveys conducted during September-May 1970-1977 (8,659 km surveyed), and only three birds were seen during repeat surveys in 2003-2020 (14,415 km surveyed) (P. Shaw, R. Buij, J. M. Thiollay, S. Thomsett, Z. Cockar and D. Ogada in litt. 2021). 

The species is provisionally suspected to be declining at a rate of 30-49% over three generations. Based on the likelihood that the threats of habitat destruction and degradation will continue, it is suspected that the rates of decline will continue into the future.


Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Benin N Extant Yes
Burkina Faso N Extant Yes
Cameroon N Extant Yes
Central African Republic N Extant Yes
Chad N Extant Yes
Côte d'Ivoire N Extant Yes
Djibouti N Extant Yes Yes
Eritrea V Extant Yes
Ethiopia N Extant Yes Yes
Gambia N Extant Yes
Ghana N Extant Yes
Kenya N Extant Yes Yes
Liberia V Extant
Mali N Extant Yes
Mauritania N Extant Yes
Niger N Extant Yes
Nigeria N Extant Yes
Senegal N Extant Yes
Somalia N Extant Yes
South Sudan N Extant Yes Yes
Sudan N Extant Yes Yes
Togo N Extant Yes
Uganda N Extant Yes Yes
Yemen V Extant Yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Desert Hot suitable resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable breeding
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable resident
Savanna Dry major non-breeding
Shrubland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable resident
Wetlands (inland) Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable breeding
Altitude 0 - 500 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Scale Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Livestock farming & ranching - Scale Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Unknown Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Species disturbance
Biological resource use Logging & wood harvesting - Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation
Pollution Agricultural & forestry effluents - Herbicides and pesticides Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Species mortality
Residential & commercial development Tourism & recreation areas Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Species disturbance

Utilisation
Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Chelictinia riocourii. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/06/2022.