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 very 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.
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 10,000-50,000 pairs, which equates to 20,000-100,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.20% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 100,000-500,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
The population is estimated to be in decline following apparent local declines, probably owing to the expansion of cultivation (del Hoyo et al. 2004). The European population is estimated to be fluctuating (BirdLife International 2015).
This species breeds in the steppe belt that extends east from the Volga River through Kazakhstan to Mongolia, but winters more widely in the steppe region to the north and west of the Black Sea, with Europe holding more than 50% of the global wintering range.
This species is found mainly on flat or slightly undulating, dry grass steppe or wormwood (Artemisia) steppe and less often in cultivated fields. Outside the breeding season it is found in wider range of grassy habitats, including stubble fields. The breeding season occurs from late April or early May until early August. The nest is made from dry grass and Artemisia, lined with finer grass. It is built in a depression on the ground, usually sheltered by a tussock or other plant. Clutches are from three to six eggs. It feeds on insects and seeds with insects as the principal food source during the summer. The species is migratory, wintering mainly in the south-west part of its global breeding range and north of the Black Sea (Alström 2004).
This species has declined in some areas due to cultivation of its steppe habitat (Alström 2004). In addition the creation of shelter belts aided the spread of corvids which prey on the species’s eggs and young (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).
Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within Europe.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Although this species is not threatened its habitat should be protected from conversion to agriculture.
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Pilgrim, J., Ekstrom, J.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Alauda leucoptera. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/07/2020.