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.
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 909,000-1,720,000 pairs, which equates to 1,820,000-3,440,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.40% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 4,550,000-8,600,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. In Europe, trends since 1991 are uncertain (EBCC 2015).
This species is found in open dry habitats, from sand dunes, sandy heaths, dry grassland and clear-felled areas to artificial habitats such as gravel pits, steppe and semi-deserts in central and eastern parts of the range. It favours areas with dwarf shrubs and low-growing trees for songposts. The breeding season is from mid-April to mid-August; although it is later in northern Europe, beginning in mid-June in Sweden and earlier in North Africa.
It is monogamous and the nest is a cup of grass stems, leaves and roots, lined with finer plant material and hair and built in a scrape or a hollow on the ground or in a tuft of grass. Usually four to five eggs are laid. The diet is mainly insects, although other invertebrates and seeds are also taken, as well as rarely small vertebrates (Tyler and Christie 2016). The species is almost wholly migratory with western populations generally wintering in the Sahel zone in sub-Saharan Africa and eastern populations generally moving to the Arabian Peninsula and southern Asia, east to the north-west Indian subcontinent (Tyler and Christie 2016).
In western and central Europe the species is threatened by habitat loss as a result of afforestation of open habitats, scrub encroachment, intensification of agriculture (Tyler and Christie 2016) and eutrophication of cultivated land (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). In addition the use of pesticides may also be a threat through the reduction of food availability (Tucker and Heath 1994). Climate change may also have an impact on this species (Tyler and Christie 2016).
Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. In Sweden, a national species action plan was published in 2001 (Löfgren and Elfström 2001).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Low-intensity grazing practices should be maintained in order to restrict the development of dense vegetation cover which is unsuitable for this species. In addition the abandonment of marginal crops in flat areas and the conversion of these sites to sheep grazing could benefit this species. Conversion of such areas to forestry plantation should be avoided. Research should be undertaken on the causes of declines in areas where habitat loss is not a significant threat (Tucker and Heath 1994). Further fieldwork is needed to ascertain whether the species breeds in the Afrotropics (Tyler and Christie 2016).
Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Anthus campestris. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/12/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/12/2021.