IUCN: LC; Be (II)
Value of species
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 appears to be stable hence it is not believed 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 (which covers c.95% of the breeding range), the breeding population is estimated to be 299,000-598,000 pairs, which equates to 597,000-1,200,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).
Trend Justification: The European population trend between 1998 and 2013 was estimated to be stable (EBCC 2015).
This species is found in mountain steppe with conifers, including wet spruce (Picea) and spruce-fir woodland (P. abies-Abies alba). In central Europe it also uses conifer-beech (Fagus), extending into bushy scrub with Rhododendron hirsutum and Pinus mugo in alpine regions, dry rugged upland slopes, heath and heather moorland with bracken, stones and grass patches, subalpine meadows with scattered shrubs and trees and low shrubbery above the tree-line on rocky slopes. In Britain it favours heather-grass mosaics and Nardus-Molinia grassland and most nesting territories contain small crags, gullies, scree and/or boulders, as well as sloping or flat areas with short vegetation and scattered trees or bushes. Breeding occurs from mid-April to mid-July in Britain and the Alps and in Scandinavia from early May to the end of June in the south and late May to early August in the north (Collar et al. 2015). In Britain the nest is generally built on or close to the ground, however in Poland it is found mostly in trees close to the trunk (Snow and Perrins 1998). The nest is a bulky cup of dry grass, stems, moss and leaves mixed with mud and lined with dry grass. Clutches can be from three to six eggs but most commonly four or five. It feeds on invertebrates, seeds and fruits, with invertebrates making up most of the diet in spring and early summer. The species is migratory; British and northern European breeders are thought to winter mainly in southern Spain and north-west Africa. Central European birds from the alpestris race winter in southern parts of the breeding range and in the Mediterranean and north-west Africa. Eastern alpestris birds move south-east to the Balkan peninsula, and is present in Cyprus between October and March with peak numbers in November which suggests onward migration may take place. Race amicorum leaves the breeding grounds in late September and October, and winter records are relatively sparse (Collar et al. 2015).
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