Whinchat Saxicola rubetra


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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid 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 6,470,000-10,700,000 pairs, which equates to 12,900,000-21,400,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.75% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 17,200,000-28,500,000 individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
In Europe, trends between 1980 and 2013 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (EBCC 2015).


This species breeds in wet meadows, pastures, bogs, upland grassland, bracken-covered hillsides, heath, dry or wet open scrub and the fringes of reedbeds. It generally requires scattered shrubs, bushes, trees or man-made perches for songposts and foraging vantages, and low herb cover and bare ground in which to forage (shrubs and herb layer also needed for nesting). In north-west Europe, breeding occurs from mid-April to early August. The nest is a cup of grass stems, leaves and moss, lined with fine stems and hair and placed in a low bush or tussock. Clutches are four to seven eggs. The diet is mainly invertebrates, with fruits and seeds also taken in the autumn. The species is migratory, wintering in tropical Africa (Collar 2015).


The species has declined due to the intensification of agriculture and the advancing of harvesting dates. Deliberate capture of birds on the wintering grounds is high and may be a factor in declines (Collar 2015).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conservation measures for this species should encourage the postponement of mowing to reduce nest losses and promote low-intensity grassland farming (Britschgi et al. 2006).


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Saxicola rubetra. Downloaded from on 04/03/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 04/03/2024.