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 is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, 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 is estimated to be 20,000-130,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 560-5,100 pairs, which equates to 1,100-10,200 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).
The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are increasing (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).
Behaviour This species is fully migratory in central Asia although there are some sedentary populations in the Middle East (del Hoyo, et al. 1996) (parts of Iraq and Iran) (Hayman, et al. 1986). Migratory populations breed in Russia between mid-April to May and depart on a broad front for winter quarters in north-east Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and northern India (Hayman, et al. 1986) between mid-July and September (del Hoyo, et al. 1996), (although individuals occasionally winter in Russia), returning to breeding grounds during March and April (Hayman, et al. 1986). This species often breeds in loose colonies of between 4 and 24 pairs (Hayman, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996), sometimes up to as many as 100 pairs (Iraq) (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo, et al. 1996). Outside of the breeding season this species occurs singly, in pairs or small groups (Urban, et al. 1986), with small migratory flocks of between 1-6 individuals and wintering flocks of 6-25 individuals (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). This species is diurnal (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). Habitat The species shows a preference for habitats in the vicinity of shallow standing or slow-flowing water with suitable smooth beds permitting unhampered walking and wading (Cramp and Simmons 1983, del Hoyo, et al. 1996). Breeding In Russia this species breeds in damp, vegetated areas near salt or fresh water, and on small vegetated islets or swampy shores of brackish lakes (Cramp and Simmons 1983, del Hoyo, et al. 1996). Non-breeding During the winter this species prefers rivers, drainage ditches, ponds, jheels (India), coastal lagoons, marshes (Cramp and Simmons 1983, Urban, et al. 1986) and flooded or recently dried out grassland (Cramp and Simmons 1983). It also occurs on salt-shrub terrain with low, sparse vegetation, on shallow seepage pools by canals and reservoirs, and on irrigated rice fields (Cramp and Simmons 1983). During this season the species also occurs on dry ground near water such as river banks and lake shores (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996), but avoids dry, open country (Urban, et al. 1986) although it has been known to roost on dry ploughed fields (Pakistan) (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). The species has also been recorded feeding in a stream of sewage effluent in Sudan (Urban, et al. 1986). Diet The species is omnivorous, its diet consisting mainly of insects (especially beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, fly larvae (del Hoyo, et al. 1996) and locusts (Johnsgard 1981)), but also worms, molluscs and crustaceans (including freshwater shrimps) (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). Breeding site The nests of this species are shallow scrapes in the open, usually near water (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). Few observations of nesting sites are available, but one was found on an irrigated but uncultivated field covered with grass, another was observed on a dry ridge near a marsh (Johnsgard 1981).
The loss of wetland habitats in Mesopotamia owing to drainage, and wetland destruction in Iraq (two of the core breeding and wintering areas) poses a threat to this species (Stroud et al. 2005).
Conservation Actions Underway
The species is not listed on priority lists of the Conventions.
Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: No conservation measures are thought to be currently needed for this species.
Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Vanellus leucurus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/02/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/02/2020.