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 has not been quantified, but it is not believed to 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.
The global population size has not been quantified. In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 10,500-21,400 pairs, which equates to 21,000-42,900 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015), but Europe forms <5% of the global range.
The global population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. The very small European population is estimated to be decreasing by less than 25% in 12.9 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).
The species is found in desert, semi-desert and desert edges, vast open steppe areas, including dry desolate hills with sparse low scrub, edges of cultivation, mountain slopes, treeless stony plains, cliffs, ravines, gorges and wadis. In the central Sahara it is also found in villages and gardens and generally avoids open areas of sandy desert but is frequent at oases (Clement 2016). In Europe, this species uses areas without tree cover but with sparse scrub (less than 100 cm), including erosion-prone, poorly vegetated uncultivated areas. In the Canary Islands, it also nests on sandy plains with halophytic and xerophytic scrub (Tucker and Heath 1994). The breeding season is February to June and the species is monogamous. The nest is built by the female and is a loose collection of twigs, plant stalks, down and fibres, grass, animal hair and occasionally feathers. It is set in a shallow depression in the ground, under a rock, shrub or grass tussock, or up to six metres above ground in a pipe or the wall of a house, derelict building or old tomb. Clutches are four to six eggs. The diet is mostly small seeds, shoots and buds of grasses and low ground-loving plants as well as some insects and their larvae, mostly grasshoppers (Orthoptera) (Clement 2016). The species is resident and dispersive or nomadic (Snow and Perrins 1998).
In Europe the species is vulnerable owing to the small size and probable isolation of the population. Illegal trapping with nets at water sources is a problem in south-east Iberia (Tucker and Heath 1994) and poaching is widespread, affecting the whole Iberian distribution. In Spain it is also threatened by the spread of agriculture, urban development, reforestation and the abstraction of water (Madroño et al. 2004). In areas such as the Canary Islands, the development of the tourist industry and uncontrolled use of four-wheel-drive vehicles are a threat to its habitat (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Conservation Actions Underway
A large proportion of the European island population is found in Special Protection Areas and in the Canary Islands it occurs in many Important Bird Areas (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range: The continued protection of Cabo de Gata Níjar Natural Park together with the enlargement of the Tabernas Desert and Sierra de Alhamilla Natural Area in Almería would assist in protecting the greatest density of the species in the Peninsula. A ban on the capture of finches along with improved enforcement measures against trappers (Tucker and Heath 1994) and the implementation of awareness campaigns amongst hunters would be beneficial. In addition, the species's nesting areas should be protected as SPAs and afforestation limited in these areas (Madroño et al. 2004).
Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S. & Ekstrom, J.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Bucanetes githagineus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/08/2020.