Xinjiang Ground-jay Podoces biddulphi


Justification of Red List Category
This species is considered Near Threatened as it is likely to have a moderately small and fragmented global population size, and is inferred to be in decline owing to habitat fragmentation and degradation; it almost qualifies for listing under criterion C1+2a(i). Further studies are required to clarify the current magnitude of risk to this species.

Population justification
The total population of this species is estimated to number 4,100–6,700 pairs, equivalent to 8,200-13,400 mature individuals (Ming 2011).

Trend justification
Precise data on population trends are not available, but a slow to moderate decline is suspected to be occurring as a result of habitat conversion and degradation.

Distribution and population

Podoces biddulphi occurs in the Taklimakan Desert, western China, where it is known from Xinjiang, with a few records well to the east of this area, e.g. the Qaidam Basin in Qinghai Province (unconfirmed sighting) and Dunhuang in Gansu Province (BirdLife International 2001; Sun and Li, 2009). It was described as being common in 1929-1930, but it was scarce and difficult to locate in the same areas in 1988. However, it has recently been found to be widespread and locally common in the interior of the Taklimakan Desert. The population is considered to be declining as a result of habitat conversion and degradation. It has been proposed that the range is expanding in the east as a result of desertification and climate change (Ming 2011), however a recent study has uncovered evidence suggesting that the species has occurred in Gansu at least since the 19th century (Stein 1921 in: Londei 2013).


This species is found in sandy desert, scrub and desert poplar. A study of 20 nests from 2003 to 2004 found that the birds placed their nests on the small desert-poplar tree Populus diversifolia and Tamarix spp. bushes, averaging 1.09 ± 0.15 m above the ground (Ming 2011).


This species is probably declining because of the fragmentation and degradation of desert habitats through the intensive grazing of goats and camels, extraction of oil and fuelwood and the conversion of huge areas to irrigated land.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species, although some of its habitat is protected.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct repeated surveys within the species's range to determine its current distribution and abundance, as well as assess population trends and rates of habitat loss. Conduct ecological studies to improve understanding of its precise habitat requirements. Research the potential impacts of climate change and desertification on the species's range (Londei, 2013). Effectively protect significant areas of suitable habitat, especially desert poplar, at key sites.


Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Ashpole, J, Gilroy, J., Wheatley, H., Benstead, P.

Ming, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Podoces biddulphi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/09/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/09/2020.