del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A., Fishpool, L.D.C., Boesman, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Red List criteria met
Red List history
IUCN Red List criteria met and history
Population justification: The global population had previously been roughly estimated to be in the band c.2,500-9,999 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2001). This appears to have been a considerable underestimate of the true population size, with Brazil (2009) considering that there were c. 100,000 breeding pairs. Without more certain information, the current population size is uncertain. The observation that at the northern edge of the range the species breeds down to near sea level may also indicate that the overall population size was likely to be considerably higher than previously suspected (Kaneko 2020). Densities had not significantly changed in 40 years at locations where habitat associations were studied: in 1977 densities were 30 individuals per km2 while in 2014 densities were 50 individuals per km2 (Deguchi et al. 2017). These high densities strongly indicates that the population size is not as small as previously suggested, and it is very likely to exceed thresholds for listing as threatened.
In the previous century the population is thought to have been greatly reduced from historical high abundance (Brazil 1991), however there was a small increase in breeding squares detected between the 1974-78 and the 1997-2004 Japanese Bird Atlas (Ministry of the Environment Biodiversity Center of Japan 2004), which has continued in the 2016-2021 atlas (Breeding Bird Distribution Survey 2021). Despite fears that the species may be impacted in a similar way to other migratory bunting species along the East Asian flyway, there is no evidence of a reduction in the numbers recorded during migration through Korea (Choi et al. 2020). Numbers of this species banded increased between the two periods investigated (1950s-1980s and 1990s-2010s), although numbers involved were small (Choi et al. 2020).
Trend justification: The species was reported to have suffered a dramatic reduction in abundance during the 20th century (Brazil 1991). Pesticide use appears to be correlated with this decline, though habitat degradation and loss to agriculture more generally are considered to have been the main drivers, potentially with an additional impact from bird trapping (Copete 2020).
An indirect study of comparative abundance trends in buntings in Korea (Choi et al. 2020) found more individuals had been banded in the 1990s-2010s versus the 1950s-1980s, and the Japan bird atlas indicates an increase in the number of confirmed or likely breeding grid squares from 89 in 1974-1978 to 126 in 2016-2021 (Breeding Bird Distribution Survey Committee 2021). As such the population is assessed as stable or possibly increasing.
Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Emberiza sulphurata. Downloaded from
http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/yellow-bunting-emberiza-sulphurata on 28/11/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://datazone.birdlife.org on 28/11/2023.