Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very small range, within which it has been recorded only rarely (on which occasions it has usually been assessed as uncommon). It is therefore estimated to have a small population, and is increasingly threatened by habitat alteration. For these reasons the species is listed as Endangered. Extensive and intensifying land-use changes within its range pose ever more serious threats, and the full extent and consequences of these require investigation.
The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to on-going habitat alteration and disturbance, although the likely rate of decline has not been estimated.
Serinus flavigula was known from three century-old specimens (the most recent dating from 1886) taken in one small area (only 30 km2) of Shoa province, eastern Ethiopia, until its rediscovery within this range in March 1989, when at least seven birds were found and the species judged uncommon (Ash and Gullick 1990). In 1996, the species was found in two more locations: Awash National Park (an IBA), where it was judged to be not uncommon, with 25+ birds seen on Mt Fantalle; and Aliyu Amba-Dulecha (an IBA) in the eastern lowlands, where it was uncommon (EWNHS 1996). The species has also been reported from Aigaber, Ambokarra, and Melka Jebdu, most of them in Shoa province (J. Vivero in litt. 2003); two of these sites are so close together that they should be considered the same locality (J. Vivero in litt. 2003). It is likely that the species is restricted to the present area, as it is an established centre of endemism.
Little is known of this species's ecology, but it would seem to prefer semi-arid desert scrub, savannah with scattered trees, thick patches of scrub on rocky hill sides, and grasslands, especially those with the tussock-grass Cymbopogon and small shrubs like Lavandula, its favoured food (EWNHS 1996). It has been recorded along the valley of a small stream at 1,400-1,500 m. The species has never been recorded from cultivated or highly degraded land and seems highly susceptible to habitat alteration and human disturbance (Vivero Pol 2001, J. Vivero in litt. 2003). It is assumed to feed on seeds and grain, and is reported to eat lavender seeds (Vivero Pol 2001, Clement 2016). The only reported nest was found on top of a small Acacia bush on the rim of Mt Fantalle crater in Awash National Park in 1999 (Vivero Pol 2001), and the timing of breeding is well known, though recently fledged juveniles have been reported in early January (Clement 2016). As it is not always at the site where most records have occurred, it may make local movements to find water and food (Vivero Pol 2001).
The major threat is habitat alteration and disturbance, for which the species appears to have little tolerance (Vivero Pol 2001, Vivero in litt. 2003). Considerable portions of its range are affected by fire and conversion to farmland (EWNHS 1996). The Awash National Park is threatened by increasing human pressure and has been threatened by tribal conflicts (EWNHS 1996). As of November 2007, there were no tribal conflicts in the species's range (M. Wondafrash in litt. 2007). Such conflicts typically last for short periods of time and are not thought to significantly threaten the species (M. Wondafrash in litt. 2007). Pastoralists and their livestock have now moved into Awash National Park and fires are a regular occurrence (EWNHS 1996).
Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs in Awash National Park, but the extent of protection that this confers is limited. No species-specific conservation action or fieldwork is being undertaken at present.
11 cm. Small canary. Overall greyish-brown on upperparts. Slight streaking on mantle. Dull greenish-yellow rump. Whole throat and upper breast pale, primrose-yellow. Remainder of underparts off-white, with faint streaking below yellow on upper breast. Similar spp. Kenya Yellow-rumped Seedeater S. reichenowi has yellow rump, lacks yellow throat. Voice Jumbled, chirpy song. Call a typical, canary-like zeee-zsreee.
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.
Vivero, J., Wondafrash, M.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Crithagra flavigula. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17/09/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17/09/2019.