Twite Linaria flavirostris


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 decreasing, but it is not thought to 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 164,000-756,000 pairs, which equates to 328,000-1,510,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.10% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 3,280,000-15,100,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing by less than 25% in 12.6 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).


This species breeds on lower montane and submontane plateaux, open moorland, barren hillsides, scree slopes, boulder-strewn areas with little or sparse vegetation, steppes, alpine meadows and areas with stunted bushes and often near boggy areas. Race pipilans breeds mostly on grassy hillsides and moorlands with heather (Erica) and bracken (Pteridium) and also in coastal heather in Scotland (including Shetland). Outside of the breeding season it occupies similar open habitat at lower altitudes. The breeding season is from April to August. The nest is a compact, deep cup of plant fibres and roots, mostly heather, bracken, grass, moss, animal hair and feathers. It is generally sited on the ground or very low down within three metres of the ground in dwarf willow (Salix), heather, bilberry (Vaccinium), bracken, rushes or grass tussocks. Clutches are three to six eggs. The diet is made up mostly of seeds and buds and small numbers of invertebrates. The species is resident and migratory (Clement 2016).


In Scotland, declines are thought to have been caused by overgrazing and agricultural expansion, (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997, Clement 2016) and changes in agricultural management causing habitat degradation and fragmentation. In addition climatic factors may have an impact on the species, influencing warmer or drier summers.  In the Waddenzee area of the North Sea coast the development of large embankments and increased grazing is thought to have driven declines (Clement 2016). Changes in land use and overgrazing also pose a threat in Ireland (McLoughlin 2009).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. The species is listed on the national Red Lists of the U.K. and Ireland (Lynas et al. 2007, Eaton et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions Proposed
This species requires the preservation and expansion of heterogeneously mixed moorland and the avoidance of agricultural improvement in foraging areas (McLoughlin 2009).


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Ashpole, J, Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Linaria flavirostris. Downloaded from on 22/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/09/2023.