Tenerife Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small range and a moderately small population. The area of suitable habitat on Tenerife is increasing overall, which suggests that the population is also increasing, and the range is not severely fragmented. However, forest fires remain a serious and plausible potential threat and have the potential cause a rapid population decline which would warrant the species being uplisted to Vulnerable or Endangered. For this reason, the species is classified as Near Threatened. Were appropriate action to be taken which reduces the risk of serious fires such that they no longer represent a plausible threat, the species may be eligible for downlisting to Least Concern in the future.

Population justification
The total population is estimated to be 1,000-2,500 pairs, equivalent to 2,000-5,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Overall trends are thought to be positive as the area of suitable habitat increases on Tenerife (Barov and Derhé 2011).

Distribution and population

This species is found only on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. The total population is estimated to be 1,000-2,500 pairs, equivalent to 2,000-5,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015), although this may be an underestimate (Garcia-del-Rey in litt. 2016, F. Rodríguez in litt. 2016). The species's overall range and population are effectively increasing due to positive trends in the area of suitable habitat on Tenerife (Barov and Derhé 2011).


It is largely dependent on Canary pine Pinus canariensis and will inhabit reforested areas where these fall within the natural distribution of this tree. Although Canary pine seeds constitute its main food source, birds occasionally feed outside pinewoods during severe weather. During the breeding season, it is found in pinewoods at 1,000-2,000 m with a high proportion of broom Chamaecytisus proliferus in the understorey. The species selects sheltered sites for feeding during the non-breeding period, with the selection of less sheltered sites mediated by pine seed availability (Garcia-del-Rey et al. 2009). It is been recorded from 800 to 2,300m at other times. The breeding season lasts from April to early August. Two eggs are generally laid, with potentially two broods per pair in a year (F. Rodríguez in litt. 2016). 


It suffers from being captured and kept in cages, and possibly also still from illegal trade, primarily to Italy, Germany and Belgium, which may have an effect on population levels. Its pinewood habitat has been subject to intense commercial exploitation which has resulted in habitat fragmentation and population isolation. Forest fires have been important in the destruction of pinewoods. Predation by feral cats has been observed (F. Rodríguez in litt. 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. It has been legally protected from hunting, capture, trade, egg or chick collection since 1980. El Teide forest on Tenerife was designated as National Parks or Natural Areas in 1987. A conservation programme was initiated in 1991 and a captive breeding programme began in 1992. An action plan was published in 1996 (González 1996). Fire prevention measures are implemented, particularly during the summer. Control measures against alien species are being implemented on Tenerife.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitoring and research should be continued and expanded. An official governmental action plan should be produced to detail conservation requirements such as habitat restoration, prevention of forest fires and eradication of illegal trade. In addition, the species should be included under CITES and adequate protection should be ensured under the Countryside Law and Wildlife Protection Law. Forest management should focus on thinning areas of dense pine trees (as in García-del-Rey et al. 2010) where no undergrowth persists and reafforesting areas within the former range of pine forests on the island (García-del-Rey and Cresswell 2005). Carry out further work to divert recreational activities from important sites. Conduct public awareness campaigns. Protect drinking sites.


16-17 cm. Relatively uniform, bluish-grey finch. Adult male has blue-grey head, back and underparts with paler chin and throat. Black wings at close range showing two wing-bars. Dull black tail. Light blue bill with black tip in breeding season. Grey-brown legs. Adult female same plumage pattern as male but greyish olive-brown above and brownish ashy-grey below. Wing bars more apparent. Similar spp. Chaffinch F. coelebs less robust and shorter tail. Plumage less uniform and wing markings more striking. Voice Short accelerating and descending series of notes.


Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Ekstrom, J., Bird, J., Capper, D., Ashpole, J, Derhé, M., Peet, N., Westrip, J.

Garcia-del-Rey, E., Lorenzo, J., Iñigo, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2018) Species factsheet: Fringilla teydea. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/09/2018. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2018) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/09/2018.