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EU Conservation plans

On this page European conservation and assessment plans can be downloaded of declining species. We have collected these papers from major government/state sites. We cover these species:
Feas Petrel | Zinos Petrel | Pygmy Cormorant | Dalmatian Pelican | Bittern | Lesser White-fronted Goose | Red-breasted Goose | Marbled Teal | Ferruginous Duck | Stellers Eider | White-headed Duck | Lammergeier | Cinereous Vulture | Lesser Spotted Eagle | Greater Spotted Eagle | Imperial Eagle | Spanish Imperial Eagle | Bonellis Eagle | Lesser Kestrel | Eleonoras Falcon | Lanner Falcon | Corncrake | Purple Gallinule | Little Bustard | Canary Island Houbara | Bustard Great Bustard | Sociable Lapwing | Great Snipe | Black-winged Pratincole | Slender-billed Curlew | Audouins Gull | Madeira Laurel Pigeon | Dark-tailed Laurel Pigeon | White-tailed Laurel Pigeon | White-tailed Eagle | Tenerife Greater Spotted Woodpecker | Gran Canaria Greater Spotted Woodpecker | Fuerteventura Chat | Aquatic Warbler | Blue Chaffinch | Azores Bullfinch | Cinereous Bunting | Cream-coloured Courser | Gyrfalcon | Crested Coot | Scottish Crossbill | Italian Partridge | Mediterranean Shag | Balearic Shearwater | Roseate Tern | Macaronesian Sparrowhawk | Corso-sardinian Goshawk | Red Kite | Semi-collared Flycatcher | Saker Falcon | Duponts Lark | Egyptian Vulture

Fea’s Petrel (Pterodroma feae)
Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma feae is an extremely rare and threatened Macaronesian endemic petrel, known to exist only on Bugio and some of the Cape Verde Islands. Fea’s Petrel, also called Bugio Freira in Madeira and Gongon in the Cape Verde Islands, is considered to be a globally threatened species classified as Vulnerable. The only known place in Europe where Fea’s Petrel breeds is on Bugio, southernmost island of the Desertas. On the Desertas, Fea’s Petrel breeds in areas where there is a thick layer of earth covered with grass and Mesembryanthemum. On and around the southern plateau of Bugio there are places with earth more than 1 m thick, and it is essential that a sufficient depth is available for the birds to construct burrows Outside Europe it breeds in the Cape Verde Islands, where the population is believed to be of 1,000 breeding birds or roughly 500 pairs (Hazevoet 1994).

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Zino’s Petrel (Pterodroma madeira)
Zino’s Petrel or Madeira Freira Pterodroma madeira is Europe’s rarest breeding seabird. It is endemic to the island of Madeira where it breeds in the central mountain massif. The breeding population is estimated to be down to a precarious 20–-30 pairs. Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira, also known as Madeira Freira, or just as Freira, is one of the most threatened birds in the world. It is classified as Endangered. Zino’s Petrel is restricted to the island of Madeira, where it breeds in a relatively small area in the high central massif. The breeding population is currently very small and estimated to be no more than 30 pairs (Zino & Zino 1986). Imber (1989) suggested a total population of 250–400 birds, based on the number of birds flying over the colony on three nights in June 1989 and on comparing this with work carried out on the Taiko P. magentae. This could be an overestimate and should be treated cautiously.

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Pygmy Cormorant ((Phalacrocorax pygmeus))
The Pygmy Cormorant is considered today as Near-Threatened within its whole geographical distribution, from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the Russian Federation (Collar et al. 1994), and is listed as Vulnerable at European level (Tucker and Heath 1994). Its present world breeding population is estimated at 13,000 pairs, and probably half of this number is in Europe, where the largest colonies are still found in Romania, Turkey and Greece. Recent surveys in Azerbaijan suggest a substantial additional population there. Data on the distribution, biology and ecology of this species are dramatically inadequate. The Pygmy Cormorant is the smallest of the three European cormorants. It is restricted to the south-east of the western Palearctic but has occurred accidentally in Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and Tunisia

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Dalmatian Pelican ((Pelecanus crispus))
The Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus is classified today as Vulnerable within its whole geographical distribution, from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to Mongolia. Its present world breeding population is estimated at 3,215–4,280 pairs, more than 80% being in the former U.S.S.R. – Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The European population occupies Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia only). The best estimate of the world population is 3,215–4,280 pairs. The former U.S.S.R. (Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan) harbours 80–84% of this, and the next most important country, Greece, has 6–8%. European numbers are estimated at 886–1,204 pairs (c.30% of the world population).

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Bittern ((Botaurus stellaris))
The Bittern is listed as a ‘SPEC 3′ vulnerable species, indicating that it is a species whose populations are not concentrated in Europe, but which has an unfavourable conservation status in Europe. It is a declining breeding species that is dependent on reedbeds, a scarce, specialised habitat. Loss and deterioration in quality of wetland habitats are mainly responsible. The overall population has been declining in size and range during the 20th century (though with recent increases in northern Europe), and if action is not taken to reverse this trend, the species could become extinct in a number of European countries. The maintenance, rehabilitation and establishment of suitable reedbed habitats and associated wetlands are of paramount importance for this species.

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Lesser White-fronted Goose ((Anser erythropus))
During the twentieth century populations of the Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus have everywhere undergone drastic declines in numbers and in the extent of the breeding and wintering ranges. Since the 1940s, the population has probably fallen by more than 90% to fewer than 50,000 individuals (Europe c.1,000 wintering; Caspian region possibly 30,000; eastern Palearctic c.6,000), and the decline is apparently continuing. Indeed, a recent review meeting of experts on the species could account for no more than 2,000 birds throughout its entire West Palearctic range (Lorentsen and Madsen 1995). The reasons for this are virtually unknown, the combination of negative factors acting on the breeding grounds (e.g. habitat loss, disturbance, shooting, increased predation) being probably insufficient to explain the rapid decline of the 1950s, and the apparent catastrophic decline of recent years.

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Red-breasted Goose
((Branta ruficollis))
The Red-breasted Goose is a long-distance migrant. It breeds in Arctic Russia, primarily on the Taimyr and adjacent peninsulas. It migrates south through Russia to Kazakhstan, and then west through southern Russia to the north and west Black Sea coasts. The majority of the population currently winters in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. The same migration route is followed, in reverse, in spring. The key regions/districts of Russia in which the plan is to be implemented are: Kalmykia, Khanty-Mansi, Kurgan, Orenburg, Rostov, Stavropol, Taimyr, Tyumen, Volgograd and Yamalia. The Red-breasted Goose occurs in small numbers in other countries, notably Azerbaijan, Greece, Hungary and Turkey.

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Marbled Teal ((Marmaronetta angustirostris))
The Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris is distributed in the Mediterranean Region (Spain, Italy, Turkey, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia), central and south Western Asia and Western Africa. In Europe Marbled Teal only breeds in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Italy, Russia, Spain and Turkey. Four separate biogeographical populations have been identified. This action plan is focused on the western Mediterranean sub-population, as the only one effectively using EU territory. In the EU the Marbled Teal breeds locally in Spain and Italy, which accounts for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its European Union breeding population is very small and has undergone a large decline because of destruction and degradation of is breeding habitat.

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Ferruginous Duck
((Aythya niroca))
Palearctic. The present breeding range of the Ferruginous Duck extends east from western
Europe to western China (Sinkiang and northern Szechuan) and western Mongolia, and north from Iran to Lithuania. Europe comprises about half of the species’ breeding range. Southern breeding areas overlap with the winter range, which extends east from west Africa to south-east Asia and north from subsaharan Africa to southern Europe. The breeding range in Europe is concentrated in eastern and central areas, with smaller numbers in the north, west and south.

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Stellers Eider ((Polysticta stelleri))
Over the last 30 years the world’s population of Stellar’s Eider has decreased by about 50% throughout its range. From an estimated 400-500,000 in the 1960s the winter population has probably declined to about 220,000 individuals (Europe: c.40,000; East Asia: c.30,000 and North America: c.150,000). Data from Sakha-Yakutia Republic and Alaskan breeding areas suggest the population has been even higher during the first half of the 20th century. The decline in some North American breeding areas is apparently continuing. The recent trend amongst wintering numbers in East Asia is unknown, in North American numbers are decreasing and in Europe they are stable or increasing. (This increase in numbers might reflect the recolonisation of the Baltic Sea, as anecdotal evidence indicates Steller’s Eider was common on the Finnish and Swedish Baltic coast in previous centuries.).

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White-headed Duck
((Oxyura leucocephala))
The White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala has undergone a considerable decline in range and population size this century, with the destruction and degradation of habitat and hunting being the causes. The Spanish population has recently recovered rapidly after being near to extinction in the 1970s. There has been considerable attention paid to the species in Turkey since 1989 which has led to conservation measures being taken at Burdur Gölü, a site that holds most of the world population in winter. Numbers appear to be roughly stable in most countries, but many key sites are not effectively protected, and the threats to them have the potential to cause rapid population declines in the near future. The species is incredibly easy to shoot, making hunting a much more significant threat than for most waterbirds.

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Lammergeier ((Gypaetus barbatus))
The Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus is a specialised scavenger which inhabits mountain areas in southern Europe. It is endangered at Europe level, numbering fewer than 250 pairs, but its global population is not concentrated in Europe (Tucker and Heath 1994). The species is listed on Annex I of the EU Birds Directive, Appendix II of the Bern Convention, Bonn Convention and CITES. The population under the scope of the action plan comprises 198 breeding pairs, of which 93 are in the EU. Once widespread across the continent, it has undergone dramatic declines leading to extinction in the Alps, the Balkans, the Carpathians, Cyprus and Sicily. The declines were due mainly to persecution by man. The remnant populations are isolated and in urgent need of conservation action assisted by international cooperation and provision of expertise. In Europe, the species now breeds only in Andorra, Spain (regions of Navarra, Aragón and Cataluña, all in the pyrenees), France (Pyrenees, Corsica and the Alps), Greece (in Crete and on the continent in Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly and the Pindus range), Turkey (throughout Anatolia) and in North Africa, only in Morocco (Atlas range).

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Cinereous Vulture ((Gypaetus barbatus))
The Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus formerly known as the Black Vulture is classified as Near-threatened at world level and Vulnerable at European level. It has a discontinuous distribution in Europe, where it is present in the Caucasus mountains (190 pairs shared among Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan), Greece (20), Spain (1,000), Turkey (100–500) and Ukraine (6). Populations are considered to be increasing in Spain and Greece, stable in Turkey and declining in Ukraine and the Caucasus. Being a predatory bird with a long life-span and a huge home-range it needs vast areas of unspoiled landscape, and these are becoming increasingly rare in Europe. The designation of protected areas is not enough to guarantee the survival of such dispersed species which exploit a variety of biotopes. Broad policies which are sensitive to the environment are necessary to ensure that the countryside outside protected areas retains the capacity to sustain Cinereous Vulture populations.

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Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina)
In Europe it occurs in the eastern part of central Europe, eastern and south-eastern Europe from North-east Germany and Estonia in the north to Greece in the south. The eastern border of the range in Russia and Ukraine is not well known and needs to be studied. The total number of pairs of the nominate race A. p. pomarina is unknown but has been estimated to be around 20,000 pairs. The number of pairs of the only other subspecies, A. p. hastata, is extremely low, probably below 100 pairs (Prakash 1996), It is therefore one of the most threatened raptors in the world. The Lesser Spotted Eagle has shown major population declines in large parts of its (former) western range, e.g. in Germany, former Yugoslavia etc. During the 19th century it has disappeared or almost disappeared from several countries or areas where it bred, e.g. former West Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, large parts of Greece, in some cases only a few decades ago.

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Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)
In Europe it occurs mainly in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, but in small numbers also in eastern Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Moldova. Its breeding in Finland and Romania in recent years needs confirmation. The total number of pairs in Europe is unknown but has been estimated to be below 1000 pairs. There is a small wintering population in Greece and Turkey. The Greater Spotted Eagle has shown major population declines in probably all parts of its range. It has disappeared or almost disappeared from much of its former western area of distribution in Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, former Yugoslavia and Israel as a breeding species. In Poland there is only one area regularly occupied by a certain number of pairs. It has apparently very much decreased in Ukraine and Russia, but this reduction in numbers has not been well described due to difficulties to monitor this species. In all countries, data on Greater Spotted Eagle breeding populations are still deficient. Our knowledge of the species’ ecology shows major gaps. It is, indeed, the least studied eagle species in Europe. Its exact ecological requirements for breeding and its adaptability to changes in the environment are still little known. However, a comprehensive study of the migration and wintering behaviour using satellite telemetry is in progress and has already yielded many surprising results.

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Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)
The Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca is classified as Vulnerable at the global level and Endangered at the European level. In Europe it occurs in the Carpathian mountains and basin, the southern and eastern Balkan peninsula, the hills and steppes of south-east Ukraine and south Russia, and the Caucasus mountains. Total numbers are estimated at 363–604 pairs. In Europe it has suffered a rapid decline in recent decades and is now very rare or extinct in many areas. It is known to be increasing only in Hungary and Slovakia, thanks to specific conservation programmes undertaken in those countries. The Imperial Eagle is sparsely distributed from central, south-east and eastern Europe east to Lake Baikal in Russia. In Europe it occurs as a breeding species in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine.

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Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti)
The Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti is one of the rarest birds of prey in the world and is endemic to the west Mediterranean region. Due to its small population it is currently classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. Its European threat status is Endangered. The current population numbers 235 breeding pairs in Spain and in Portugal. Dispersing or nomadic juveniles regularly appear in Morocco. In Morocco it has disappeared as a breeding species. The Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti is a monotypic species endemic to the Western Mediterranean and breeding only in Europe where its entire range is restricted to the Iberian peninsula. A sedentary and territorial species, adult pairs occupy their territories year-round and they defend them from intrusion by other raptors. The current range of the species is estimated at 117,000 km2 (BirdLife, 2008) confined to the Southwestern quadrant of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). The breeding population of the Spanish Imperial Eagle experienced an almost constant growth between 1974 and 2004, rising from 38 to 198 breeding pairs, with an average growth rate of 5.4 pairs/year. In 2007 there were 232 breeding pairs in Spain and three in Portugal.

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Bonelli’s Eagle
(Hieraaetus fasciatus)
The Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus is an endangered species at European level having experienced a large decline throughout almost all of its European range, with a population now numbering less than 2500 pairs. The European population numbers 862-1072 breeding pairs. The global population is not concentrated in Europe and Spain holds about 65% of the European population, the rest having an irregular distribution in the Mediterranean. The global range of the Bonelli’s Eagle extends from the Iberian Peninsula and NW Africa across southern Europe, the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula through Afganistan to India, south China and Indonesia. The specie’s decline has exceeded 50% over twenty years in some areas and in Spain, which holds up to 65% of the European population, the population appears to have declined by 25% from 1980 to 1990. This downward trend is contrary to that of other big eagles, such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle and Golden Eagle, whose populations are either stable or recovering. It is thought to be due to persecution, electrocution by powerlines, disturbance at nest sites and loss and deterioration of dry grassland and garrigue habitats..

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Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
The Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni is a globally threatened species classified as Vulnerable. It has shown major population declines in large parts of its western Palearctic breeding range and has disappeared from several countries where it bred until recently. The western Palearctic population (Europe and North Africa) was estimated to be 10,000–17,000 pairs in 1994. In many countries data on Lesser Kestrel breeding populations are still deficient. Our knowledge of the species’ ecology also shows some gaps (e.g. maximum distances of foraging grounds from breeding colonies). In particular a comprehensive understanding of the migration routes of different breeding populations and their wintering grounds is still lacking. Knowledge of the species’ migration and winter ecology and of possible threats in Africa is incomplete. Since the 1960s populations of Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni throughout the western Palearctic have declined dramatically. This decline may be attributed to a number of factors including restoration and demolition of older buildings (reducing nest-site availability), the urbanisation of formerly open areas (destroying important feeding areas) and intensification of agricultural practices (loss of feeding sites and a reduction in prey availability). These factors have led to similar declines in the populations of a number of insectivorous bird species, such as the Hobby Falco subbuteo, Great Bustard Otis tarda, Little Owl Athene noctua, Roller Coracias garrulus and others. Other threats to the Lesser Kestrel include poisoning by pesticides, human persecution and interspecific competition.

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Eleonoras Falcon
(Falco eleonorae)
The Eleonora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae is a raptor of the Mediterranean, which is classified as Rare at European level. The world population of 6250 pairs is concentrated in relatively few colonies of up to 300 pairs each, between the Canary Islands in the west and Cyprus in the east. The loss of a single colony can be a substantial loss of the world population. Breeding sites are along the coast of the mainland or islands and to a large extent on uninhabited islets. Due to the breeding season in summer/autumn, the development of tourism and increasing number of sailing and speed boats who visit remote sites, there is an obvious need to consider the conservation of the species in coastal management of the Mediterranean. As it is not possible to protect all these remote sites by wardens, this action plan lists the possibilities compiled during a workshop of the experts and obtained by a wide consultation of competent authorities. In addition to the breeding colonies and their immediate vicinity, the migration route and wintering quarters of the species in East Africa and Madagascar are briefly considered, too. The centre of the species range is the Aegean islands and Crete, which hold about 70 % of the world population. Whilst the wintering grounds are in Madagascar and for a fraction of the population probably in Tanzania, too, migration data are sketchy (Ristow and Wink 1992). Population trends on a historical scope are not available.

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Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)
The Lanner Falcon is classified as Endangered at the European level. The total European population of subspecies feldeggii is 328-431 pairs, breeding in 7 countries (56% in Italy). Subspecies erlangeri numbers 1350-1400 pairs, breeding in 3 countries (74% in Morocco), while subspecies tanypterus totals 75-85 pairs (breeding in 5 countries). However, these estimates should be treated with caution, since information on Lanner Falcon populations in many countries is poor (e.g. Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Jordan). The population has been declining in Europe since the 1950s, because of widespread human persecution and decrease of steppe and arid grassland habitat. Conservation measures must focus on habitat management and maintenance of steppe and arid grassland habitat; wardening of breeding sites accessible to people; and public awareness (specifically targeted at rock-climbers). The Lanner Falcon is composed of five subspecies (biarmicus, abyssinicus, erlangeri, feldeggii and tanypterus), spread across the Western Palearctic, Arabian Peninsula, and central and southern Africa. In the Mediterranean, the northern limit of the species, numbers have declined dramatically since the 1950’s and 1960’s. This has been attributed to several factors, but especially human persecution. Others threats are pesticide pollution, disturbance from rock-climbers, theft off eggs and chicks and possibly also interspecific competition

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Corncrake (Crex crex)
The Corncrake is worldwide considered ‘near threatened’. Corncrakes breed widely across Eurasia, from the Atlantic to western Siberia. The core wintering area is situated in the savannas and other grasslands in eastern and south-eastern Africa. The global population is estimated to number 1.7 to 3.5 million singing males, including estimates for countries where complete national surveys are not feasible. Due to the lack of sufficient data, trends are rather poorly known in many (important) countries in the breeding range, especially in eastern Europe and Asia. Based on new information from these countries, the species recently has been downlisted from ‘globally threatened’ to ‘near threatened’. Available data on trends suggest declines of 20-50% in the recent decades in large parts of the breeding range, most pronounced in western European countries. From the mid-1990s onwards, however, several countries have reported increases. Declines in Corncrake numbers were already reported in the 19th century, but declining rates accelerated in the second half of the 20th century. During this period, national Corncrake populations often suffered losses of more than 50%. In a number of countries the species hovered at the verge of extinction in the 1980s. However, surveys in eastern European countries in the 1990s proved the existence of thriving populations, although declines have been reported in those countries too prior to 1990. By the mid-1990s, the species had shown a remarkable recovery in several European countries. It is thought that temporary favourable breeding conditions in former Soviet-Union-dominated countries have resulted in an increase of the total world population and have triggered the recent population increase observed in several countries. Secondly, also increases in relation to improved conservation measures have been reported.

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Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio porphyrio)
The Purple Gallinule Porphyrio porphyrio is listed as a SPEC 3 and is considered ‘Rare’ in Europe due to their limited numbers. It is also listed in Annex I of the EC Birds Directive and Appendix II of the Bern Convention. Europe holds the nominal subspecies P. p. porphyrio, that shows a fragmented distribution range as a consequence of a large decline that the species has suffered between the end of 19th and mid 20th. Current European population is estimated to be ca. 3.990-5.154 breeding pairs, 85-90% within Spain (3.500-4.500 pairs). Much smaller populations remain in Sardinia (450-600 pairs), Portugal (34-38 pairs) and France (6-16 pairs). In Greece the species was a rare resident breeding bird in the 19th century in Southern mainland and became extinct by the end of that century. Russia (Caspian Sea) and Turkey hold the subspecies P. p. caspius, whose current conservation status is unclear. European populations are recovering and expanding their distribution range as a consequence of direct protection measures of the species and its habitat. However, some threats still remain which can stop or jeopardise this recovery process, namely habitat loss and degradation. Reintroduction programmes may be needed overcome habitat and population fragmentation.

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Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax)
The Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax is a Near-threatened species, considered Vulnerable in Europe due to large declines in most of its European range, most of the global population of this species, which exceeds 100,000 birds, being concentrated in Europe. After dramatic declines since the 19th century, leading to extinction in many countries of central and southern Europe and northwest Africa, its present range is divided into two widely separated subareas. In the east the Little Bustard may already be extinct in Ukraine and Turkey, but populations still seem to be relatively healthy in Russia and Kazakhstan. The western part of the range extends into the EU, mostly within Iberia. Some 100,000-200,000 displaying males have been estimated for Spain and about 20,000 individuals for Portugal. Much smaller, relict populations remain in Italy (1,500-2,200 birds in Sardinia and 50 birds in Apulia) and parts of France (1,200 displaying males). Populations are resident, dispersive or migratory in different regions. In Europe Little Bustards mostly inhabit arable (extensive dry cereal crops) and pastoral lands, selecting areas with high a diversity of ground cover, i.e. mosaics with pasture, long-rotation fallow and legume crops. Present trends in agriculture (e.g. towards monocultures, concentration of landholdings, irrigation and tree crops) are resulting in rapid loss and/or fragmentation of Little Bustard habitat. Thus the use of agri-environment measures to maintain or increase large areas of non-intensive farmland appears to be the most effective conservation tool for this species.

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Canary Island Houbara Bustard (Tetrax tetrax)
The Canary Islands Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae is a subspecies endemic to the Canary Islands, being found on the islands of Fuerteventura, Lobos, Lanzarote and Graciosa. The total population is estimated at 700–750 birds (300–350 on Fuerteventura and Lobos and 400 on Lanzarote and Graciosa). The species is protected under Spanish legislation and classed as Endangered in the national Red Data Book. The Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata is not considered threatened at world level in Birds to Watch 2 due to the fact that large numbers are found in Asia and North Africa but it is considered as a Vulnerable species by IUCN. In Europe, it is present only in the Canary Islands (Spain) where the endemic subspecies fuertaventurae occurs, and it was provisionally classified as Endangered. The Houbara is found in suitable areas on Fuerteventura and Lanzarote although it has also recently been recorded on Graciosa and is occasionally observed on Lobos. The total population in the Canary Islands is estimated at 700–750 birds; 300–350 on Fuerteventura and Lobos and 400 on Lanzarote/Graciosa. Census studies carried out in December 1993 on Lanzarote show that the Houbara population there is much bigger than was thought; these authors consider that the Fuerteventura population must also be larger and has been underestimated.

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Great Bustard
(Otis tarda)
The Great Bustard is considered Vulnerable both in Europe and globally due to its large (>30%) decline over three generations (i.e. from the mid-1960s). The Great Bustard is strongly attached to lowlands and undulating open countryside with dry soil and low level of annual rainfall. Great Bustard populations are migratory in the east and partially migratory elsewhere. With the advent of mechanised agriculture the species’ range severely contracted in the 19th and 20th century and the species has become extinct from many countries. Consequently, the Western Palearctic range of the species is now highly fragmented. The latest estimate of the Great Bustard global population is 43,500–51,200 individuals. Approximately, 90% of the global population occurs within the geographic scope of this action plan. Although the total European population of Great Bustard has not decreased over the last two decades and even increased as a result of concerted conservation efforts in Austria, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Hungary, current numbers are still far lower than three generations before (i.e. in the mid-1960s) and the contraction of the species range continues. The main threats to the Great Bustard are the loss and degradation of its habitat through agricultural intensification, land-use changes and infrastructure development, increased mortality caused mainly by powerlines and reduced reproductive success due to high-levels of nest destruction by mechanised farming and high chick mortality through predation and starvation.

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Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius)
The Sociable Lapwing breeds currently in Kazakhstan and central part of southern (further “southcentral”) Russia. Its breeding range includes northern and central Kazakhstan, and in Russia extends currently from the Orenburg region, across Chelyabinsk, Kurgan, Omsk and Novosibirsk regions to the area around Barnaul in the Altai. Within this area the species is very much scattered, numbers are low and declining. On migration Sociable Lapwings are found in a large range of countries of Middle, Central and Southern Asia (Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan). Countries of primary importance for wintering are Eritrea, India, Iraq, Israel, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and still possibly Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. Vagrant birds have also been recorded in a wide range of Asiatic and European countries. The population has undergone significant and rapid decline in the second half of the 20th century, and this is considered ongoing. Population size was recently estimated at not more than 10,000 adult individuals (a rather optimistic estimate), or fewer. A few years later it was considered that the population numbers not more than 1,000 breeding pairs in the total range of the species. Estimates made during the Sociable Lapwing Workshop in Moscow in 2002 suggest that the situation is far worse: the world population is estimated at 200-600 breeding pairs (ca. 600-1,800 birds).

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Great Snipe (Gallinago media)
At present the Great Snipe breeds in two separate areas: a western population in the Scandinavian Mountains and an eastern population from Poland throughout the Baltic States, Ukraine, Belarus and the boreal areas and bush-tundra areas in Russia eastwards to the Yenisey River in Siberia. It winters, with several stopover sites, in tropical Africa and seems to have a rapid spring and autumn migration with a few short stopovers between African wintering areas and the breeding sites. The population declined dramatically at the end of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century, when the species disappeared from the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Finland and the lowlands of Sweden and Norway. During the same period there was also a considerable population reduction in Poland, the Baltic States, Ukraine, Belarus and in Russia. The western breeding population (Scandinavian Mountains) seems now to be stabilising and is roughly estimated to hold 6,000 – 17,000 ‘pairs’. The population in Poland and the Baltic is estimated to be 1,600 – 2,300 ‘pairs’, and the Belarus population estimate is 4,600 – 6,000 ‘pairs’. Many structural changes in the agricultural practices in these areas are currently causing a major threat to this fraction of the population. The Russian population is roughly estimated to be more than 250,000 ‘pairs’. The information about population size and population changes for the Russian population is very fragmented, but the southern part of this population is apparently experiencing a continued decline. The Great Snipe is currently classified as “Near Threatened” at global level and at the European level it is considered ‘Declining’.

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Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanni)
The Black-winged Pratincole breeds mainly in the steppe and desert belt of Eurasia from Romania and Ukraine in the west to the Russian part of the Altai and to Kazakhstan in the east. It winters in Africa south of the Sahara desert. Migration through the Middle East countries such as Turkey, Iran, Iraq, etc. is probably transit/flyover, and takes place at high altitudes; as a result the Blackwinged Pratincole is seldom recorded in this region. Population decline of the Black-winged Pratincole started in the end of 19th century, and became more evident in the second half of the 20th century. In recent years, starting from the 1980s-1990s, a marked population decline again took place: in 10 years numbers decreased by half or two thirds. Currently the total population of the Black-winged Pratincole is unlikely to exceed 10,000-15,000 pairs. The Black-winged Pratincole is classified as “Data Deficient” (BirdLife International 2004) at global level, and “Endangered, SPEC 1″ at European level (BirdLife International 2004). It is however not included at all either in the Red Data Book of Asia or in the list of Globally Threatened Species, probably because of far too optimistic interpretation of species numbers.

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Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris)
The Slender-billed Curlew is arguably the most threatened bird species in the western Palearctic; it is certainly the least well known of the region’s threatened birds, which greatly adds to the difficulty of conserving it. It appears to be the only bird species of the western Palearctic whose breeding grounds have remained unknown for the last 70 years. Thus, although its current population size is comparable with that of Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira and Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita, because the Slender-billed Curlew’s present breeding grounds are unknown (as well , apparently, as most of the wintering areas), there is much less that can be done to help it. The conservation challenge is compounded by the fact that the identification of the species is not straightforward and that it is a medium- to long-range migrant, crossing many countries in which conservation action is needed. The conservation status of the Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris is classified as Critical at a global level. It is almost certainly the rarest and most poorly known bird species in Europe, where it occurs as a passage migrant. The population is estimated to be 50–270 birds. The first action plan, covering nine range-states, was included in the BirdLife International monograph on the species. Conservation of the Slender-billed Curlew is a truly formidable task. Although major gaps remain in our knowledge of the species in large parts of its range, certain actions can be taken immediately (and some have already been achieved). Effective conservation action will depend largely on a high degree of cooperation and commitment among those responsible, and on medium- to long-term funding of the necessary activities.

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Audouins Gull (Larus audouinii)
Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii is a rare and localised species with a breeding population of about 15,000 pairs limited to the Mediterranean Sea. Audouin’s Gull breeds in Algeria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey. The most northerly colony is on the island of Gorgona (Tuscan archipelago, Italy). Because of the population increase in the western Mediterranean in the last twenty years it is now classified as Conservation Dependent. Most breeding sites are rocky cliffs and offshore islands or islets, the exception being the colony in the Ebro delta (Spain) which is on a saltmarsh/sandy seashore habitat. The most important colonies (c.90% of the total population) lie within protected areas. Wintering areas are poorly known and include Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Senegal. The world distribution of Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii is confined to the Mediterranean basin. It is classified as Conservation Dependent at a global level and as Localised at European level. The population increase which has taken place in the western Mediterranean during the last 10 years has led to its removal from the list of globally threatened species

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Madeira Laurel Pigeon (Columba trocaz)
The Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz is an endemic bird of the island of Madeira and is under strict national and international protection. In the earlier days of man’s colonisation of the island it was a very abundant bird but due to very heavy persecution and dramatic loss of its habitat (85%) it has become a threatened species. The remaining 15% of the Laurel forest (an area of about 12,000 ha) is now under the jurisdiction of the Parque Natural da Madeira (Madeira Natural Park). Thanks to the very intense management carried out by the Natural Park, the population of the Madeira Laurel Pigeon is now increasing, and has reached numbers that give great optimism for its future if, and only if, the management, protection and research are continued. The Madeira Laurel Pigeon or Long-toed Pigeon Columba trocaz is endemic to the island of Madeira. It is listed as Rare in the African Red Data Book (Collar & Stuart 1985) and in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals and is classified as Conservation Dependent in Birds to Watch 2. In the Portuguese Red Data Book it is listed as Vulnerable. The Madeira Laurel Pigeon formerly occurred also on the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, the reduction of its range there and on Madeira being associated with the cutting of Laurel forest for wood, agriculture, grazing and human settlements. The species used also to be very heavily hunted both for sport and because of the damage it causes to crops.

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Dark-tailed Laurel Pigeon (Columba bollii)
The Dark-tailed Laurel Pigeon Columba bollii is endemic to the Canary Islands occurring in the laurel forests of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro with an estimated population of 1,700 individuals. It is classified as Vulnerable in the Red Data Book of Spanish Vertebrates and also at world level. The range of this species has contracted substantially since the nineteenth century. Emmerson et al. (1986) commented that on Tenerife the Dark-tailed Laurel Pigeon now occupies just 35-40% of its original area, which gives an idea of the scale of the destruction and alteration of laurel forest on the Island. This species is found on Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. On Gran Canaria the remains of a pigeon that used to inhabit the island have been found. Its bones are similar to those of Laurel Pigeons, but it has not been possible to identify the species due to lack of comparative material

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White-tailed Laurel Pigeon (Columba junoniae)
The White-tailed Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae is a species endemic to the Canary Islands archipelago, being found only on the islands of Tenerife, La Palma and La Gomera. It occurs in laurel forest and has an estimated population of about 1,200-1,480 birds. The species is considered as Globally Threatened and is classified as Vulnerable in the Red Data Book of Spanish Vertebrates. With the arrival of the Spanish in the fifteenth century, laurel forest was subjected to intensive exploitation. Extensive areas of forest were razed to create farmland and large oak trees were felled for timber and fuel, greatly reducing the area of original forest. These activities have decreased considerably but even today laurel forest, especially on La Palma, is still exploited and its conservation is therefore cause of concern. Apart from the enormous decrease in its extent, laurel forests have also been profoundly changed and fragmented due to the increased demand for wooden poles and tool handles for the cultivation of recently introduced crops (tomatoes, bananas and vines). This wood is obtained by coppicing laurel trees so that a large number of shoots sprout from the remaining stump. This results in a thick layer of vegetation mainly consisting of “fayas” and heath that over time becomes extensive. This is carried out along horizontal or vertical strips, depending on the slope, and results in the partitioning of the woods into plots with vegetation at different stages of growth. The best preserved areas of laurel forest are now restricted to inaccessible areas.

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White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
The natural distribution of the White-tailed Eagle comprises most of Europe and central and northern Asia and extends to Greenland in the west. Of course, the population status and conservation status and the main threats to the species vary over this wide area, but there are conservation needs and priorities that will apply generally. Historically, natural populations were greatly reduced over the species entire range as the result of persecution and the species was even entirely exterminated from a number of countries, notably in Europe. Legislative protection from killing enforced during the 20th century halted the decline of remaining populations in Europe but new human-induced threats emerged and increased in importance, such as land development and chemical pollution. Protective measures and the ban of some persistent, bio-accumulating chemicals during the last three decades of the 20th century eventually resulted in improved breeding success and increasing populations, especially in northern and central Europe. However, populations remain small in several countries and the species is currently classified as critically endangered in two, endangered in seven, and vulnerable in seven countries in Europe. The total number of pairs of the nominate race Haliaeetus albicilla is currently estimated at approximately 7,000 pairs (Table 1). The total number of pairs of the Greenland subspecies H. a. groenlandicus is estimated at only 150-170 pairs.

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Tenerife Greater Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major canariensis)
The subspecies Dendrocopos major canariensis is only present in Tenerife Is. Another Woodpecker subspecies in the Canary Islands is distributed in Gran Canaria Island (D. m. thanneri). The species is mainly distributed in the South, Southeast of the island of Tenerife, where the best preserve pinewoods, the habitat to which the species is closely linked to, are found. In 1985 a survey located the subspecies in 14 5×5 km units with a continous distribution up to San Juan de La Rambla. Martín; this gave clear indications of an ongoing extension toward the pine areas in the north of the island. Thepopulation estimate at that time was less than 100 pairs. Recent data (1998) confirm the extension of the species with the colonisation of Los Realejos, La Orotava, Candelaria and El Rosario pinewoods. The subspecies is now covering 17 5×5 km units. A higher sampling effort resulted in as estimate of of 125-166 pairs.

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Gran Canaria Greater Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major thanneri)
The subspecies is present only in Gran Canaria Island. Another Woodpecker subspecies in the Canary Islands is present on Tenerife Island (D. m. canariensis). It is abundant in the Pajonales, Ojeda and Inagua pine woodlands. It is also present in the San Bartolomé, Las Tederas, Pilancones and Tamadaba pine woodlands, as well as in the Tirajana, Llanos de la Pez y Pinos de Galdar ones. Recent density estimates obtained in the Pajonales Ojeda and Inagua sites equal 4,32 birds/10 ha, while that of the Pilancones site is 1,71 birds/10 ha. Population has been estimated to be 250 pairs, although intensive censuses have not been carried out. Records obtained during the last few years seem to confirm that the subspecies is becoming more abundant. Currently seen in localities where the Woodpecker had not been recorded for past decades, it is also seen in areas outside the pine woodland. The stability and even increase in the population of the Gran Canaria Woodpecker is consistent with the current protection status of the majority of pine woodland sites on the Island. The subspecies is narrowly linked to the evolution and maintenance of these sites.

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Fuerteventura Chat
(Saxicola dacotiae)
The Fuerteventura Chat Saxicola dacotiae is endemic to the island of Fuerteventura (Canary Islands). Its preferred habitats include earthy and stony environments and gullies with vegetation cover consisting of medium- to large-sized shrubs, large stones and shrubby slopes. In 1985, the species’ population was estimated to be 650 to 850 pairs. The Fuerteventura Chat is identified as ‘Near Threatened’ by BirdLife International. It is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ in Europe, because of its small population size and its restriction to a single island. The Fuerteventura Chat is an endemic species to the Canaries’ archipelago, where the species’ distribution range is restricted to Fuerteventura Island. It also have occurred on Alegranza and Montaña Clara until the beginning of the 20th Century and there are have been recent records from the neighbouring island of Lanzarote. Only one census has been carried out so far, with a fragmented population of 650 to 850 pairs being estimated.

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Aquatic Warbler
(Acrocephalus paludicola)
The Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola is the rarest migratory songbird of Europe, and the only globally threatened passerine bird found in mainland Europe. The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, because of its rapid decline in the past and the current very limited area of occupancy of less than 1,500 km2. At European level, it is classified as vulnerable, and is considered to have an Unfavourable conservation status in the EU. Once widespread and numerous in fen mires and wet meadows throughout Europe, the Aquatic Warbler has disappeared from most of its former range. Nowadays, its world population of only 10,500-14,200 vocalising males is confined to fewer than 40 regularly occupied breeding sites in only six countries, covering together only c. 1,000 km2, with four sites supporting over 80% of the global population. The Aquatic Warbler regularly breeds in Belarus, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine (irregularly in Russia and Latvia), with major populations in Belarus, Ukraine and Poland. The breeding distribution is fragmented because of habitat constraints. The species became extinct in Western Europe during the 20th century and has declined dramatically in central Europe. It formerly bred in France, Belgium, Netherlands, former West Germany, former Czechoslovakia, former Yugoslavia, Austria and Italy. Two small geographically isolated and genetically separate subpopulations of the Aquatic Warbler exist in Germany/northwest Poland and West Siberia (Russia). These populations are most likely facing extinction in the near future.

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Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea)
The Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea is endemic to the Canary Islands and comprises two subspecies, one found on Tenerife (F. t. teydea) and the other on Gran Canaria (F. t. polatzeki). Its habitat is Canary pine Pinus canariensis woodland which is listed in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive. Although there has not been a census of the Tenerife population, its situation is thought to be stable, while the estimated population on Gran Canaria is 185–260 birds, which means that the latter subspecies is classified as Endangered both nationally and internationally. The Blue Chaffinch is endemic to the Canary Islands and comprises two subspecies Fringilla teydea teydea on Tenerife and F. t. polatzeki on Gran Canaria. The status of the Tenerife subspecies is good, while the Gran Canaria subspecies presents serious conservation problems. The species is classified as Rare by IUCN (Groombridge 1993) and as Conservation Dependent in Birds to Watch 2. At European level the species is classified as Vulnerable and it is listed in Annex I of the EU Wild Birds Directive and in Appendix II of the Bern Convention. Its habitat is included in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive (42.9 Macaronesian Pine Forest(endemic).

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Azores Bullfinch
(Pyrrhula murina)
The Azores bullfinch Pyrrhula murina, also known as the São Miguel bullfinch or Priolo, is a very distinct species occurring only in the east of the island of São Miguel in the Azores ar-chipelago (Portugal). It is included in Annex I of the EU Wild Birds Directive. The species’ habitat is Laurel forest, which, is listed as a priority habitat in Annex I of the EU Habitats Di-rective (45.61 to 45.63 Macaronesian Laurel Forests). Human use of Laurel forest for cattle grazing and agriculture, along with the introduction of aggressive invasive exotic plants that are now widespread, has degraded this habitat and consequently led to the reduction of the species’ range and population size. Prior to restoration actions, there were virtually no native laurel forest areas within the Azores bullfinch range that were free from the invasive tree species Clethra arborea. Recent studies suggest that Woodwardia radicans, Pteris incompleta, Culcita macrocarpa, Ilex azorica and Prunus azorica were most likely the original winter food resources consumed by the Azores bullfinch prior to the invasion of Clethra arborea in the 1950s. Management of these five spe-cies should be carefully considered in restoration efforts of very large areas. Breeding occurs from mid–June to late August. The observed adult/juvenile ratio in late summer suggests that average breeding success is lower than 2 fledglings per pair. The earli-est available population size estimates point to 30–40 pairs in the late 1970s, 100 pairs in 1989 and between 60 and 200 pairs (mean 120) in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Based on re-sightings of ringed birds (during 25 months from 2005 to 2007), the mean population size (mean ± SE) was 1608 ± 326 individuals. In 2008 the 1st Priolo Atlas presented a population size estimate of 1064 (608-1824) individuals. These results suggest that the population is no longer in significant decline, although the main threats remain. These threats are limited availability of suitable habitat and ongoing habitat degradation caused by invasive vegetation.

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Cinereous Bunting
(Emberiza cineracea)
An uncommon inhabitant of barren relatively low-altitude montane regions in Asia Minor, the species is one of the least known Western Palearctic buntings. Cinereous Bunting is very poorly known but appears to be scarce, perhaps even threatened, because of its very limited range and relatively small population. The species was first described in 1836, having been discovered that year in the vicinity of Izmir in western Turkey. Two subspecies are recognised: the western, white or grey-bellied race, cineracea, and the eastern yellowish-bellied race, semenowi. Nominate cineracea breeds in western Turkey approximately from Assos (G. Kirwan pers. obs. 2002) south-east towards the eastern-central Taurus
Mountains and the fringes of the Central Plateau/Inner Anatolia as east a Gaziantep, where the two subspecies seem overlap. The range extends onto the Greek islands of Lesvos, which holds the largest population of 100–250 pairs, Chios, with probably 5–50 pairs and Skyros (fewer than five pairs). It is possible that this subspecies also occurs on other Greek islands, especially in the central-eastern Aegean, e.g. Ikaria and Samos. It has also been recorded in the south-eastern Aegean, on Kos and in the northern Ionian, on Corfu. In south-east Turkey, the race semenowi is found from the Gaziantep area in the west, north to Dogubayazit, east into Iran, where an apparently isolated population occurs in the Zagros Mountains in the south-west of the country. This population consists of fewer than 100 pairs. Statements in the literature that this form breeds in northern Iraq are of uncertain provenance and apparently unsubstantiated. Oft-repeated statements in the same literature that semenowi might also breed in northern Syria are solely based on the observation of a single male in late July 1976; such tenuous evidence of the species’ presence in the country during the breeding season render these suppositions meaningless. Despite a relative upsurge in ornithological activity in Syria during recent years (principally in winter and migration periods) there have been no subsequent records there..

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Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor)
The Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor cursor) is present in the islands of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain. It is considered extinct in Gran Canaria Island. There are also records from Tenerife but reproduction has never been confirmed in this island. The population is estimated in 200-250 pairs. Due to the large decline of the Cream-Coloured Courser, it is considered as SPEC 3 and vulnerable. Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain. It is considered extinct as a breeding species in Gran Canaria Island. There are also records from Tenerife but reproduction has never been confirmed on this island. The species in considered Rare in Lanzarote, Out of Danger in Fuerteventura, and Insufficiently known in Gran Canaria Island. according to the Red Data Book of Terrestrial Vertebrates of the Canary Island. In the Red Data Book of Spanish Vertebrates it is considered Vulnerable (Blanco & González 1992). The legal status of the Cream-coloured Courser has changed recently with the upgrade of the threat category in the National Catalogue of Threatened Species from Special Interest to Sensitive to Habitat Alteration. BirdLife International considers the C ream-Coloured Courser SPEC 3 and Vulnerable.

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Gyrfalcon
(Falco rusticolus)
The Gyrfalcon is distributed circumpolarly in the arctic tundra and forest-tundra. It does not belong to the world list of threatened birds, but in Europe, having only about 2,000 breeding pairs (Greenland included), it has been classified as SPEC 3 and Vulnerable. The population seems to have declined considerably, at least in northern Fennoscandia, in the late 19th and early 20th century. This is possibly due to intensive and large-scale egg collecting and simultaneous shooting of adults, decline of the Willow Grouse Lagopus lagopus and Ptarmigan L. mutus populations, and habitat deterioration. This and other factors are still affecting the population. In Europe the Gyrfalcon is a rare species. As a breeding species it is confined to Greenland, Iceland, Fennoscandia and northern Russia. At least in northern Fennoscandia the population seems to have declined considerably in the late 19th and early 20th century. This is possibly due to intensive and large-scale egg collecting and simultaneous shooting of adults for decades, decline of the Willow Grouse Lagopus lagopus and Ptarmigan L. mutus populations, and habitat deterioration. The Gyrfalcon is largely dependent on these two grouse species for food during winter and spring. Gyrfalcon populations continued to be stressed at least locally up to the late 1900s due to shortage of food, habitat destruction, disturbance of nest sites, and illegal removal of eggs and young for collections and falconry.

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Crested Coot (Fulica cristata)
The current global distribution of Crested Coot is fragmented in two spatially isolated centres: Eastern and Southern Africa, and Western Mediterranean; Europe is a northernmost extreme of this distribution range. During the 20th century, the regional range in the Western Mediterranean of the Crested Coot Fulica cristata has decreased significantly and the population has undergone a marked decline. At present, the species is almost extinct on the Iberian Peninsula, the only region where the species occurs in Europe. This decline has mainly been due to habitat destruction and degradation. Hunting and other factors, such as the marginal character of the population, have also contributed to some degree to this decline. Another weakness is that there is a disregard about current status of Crested Coot populations in the centres of distribution and the species are not known to public awareness. The conservation of the species in Europe and in the Western Mediterranean (Morocco and Algeria) requires action on several fronts. The most important need is the effective conservation of the most important wetlands for the species, paying particular attention to breeding sites. A large proportion of these breeding sites have already some figure of legal protection but they are still being degraded by a variety of factors, such as hydrological changes within catchments. In view of the ongoing habitat loss in the major breeding grounds of the Crested Coot in Morocco, it is imperative that this Action Plan will be successfully implemented to conserve the remaining populations in the western Mediterranean. The restriction of hunting in key sites where Crested Coot is regularly registered is also important due to the difficulties to distinguish it from Common Coot (F. atra), a very popular game waterbirds.

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Scottish Crossbill
(Loxia scotica)
The Scottish Crossbill appears to be confined to the central and eastern Scottish Highlands; only sporadic movements have been recorded south to Fife and Dumfries & Galloway, and these must be questioned given the difficulty of field identification. Since it is very difficult to separate this bird in the field from the closely related Common Crossbill (with which it was until very recently regarded as conspecific) and Parrot Crossbill, and because it is liable to annual fluctuations and distributional shifts or irruptions due to availability of local food supplies, population figures have been unobtainable. This dispersive behaviour may result in the species being common in an area in one year and almost absent in another. The population was estimated at around 1,500 individual adults in the early 1970s, but interpretation of the ‘Atlas’ data of 1968-72 (when breeding of crossbills was confirmed in over 60 squares in this species’ range and considered possible or probable in over 40 others) suggests that this number is too low and that there are 1,000-1,250 pairs (Batten et al 1990). The New Breeding Bird Atlas did not feel able to distinguish between Scottish and Common Crossbills for the purposes of its survey, but quoted the figure of 1500 individuals given in the Winter Atlas. Recent work suggests that Parrot Crossbills are present in the Highlands in considerable numbers, complicating the overall picture still further. The Scottish crossbill has not been recorded outside the UK.

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Italian Partridge (Perdix perdrix italica)
The Italian subspecies of the Grey Partridge (Perdix p. italica) was described at the beginning of the 20th century from a limited number of museum specimens. Subsequently, its taxonomic validity has been questioned. The subspecies’ historic range included most of Italy from the alpine valleys to Calabria. In 1983, a survey identified 14 sites supporting the species, thirteen of which where in the northern part of the country. Throughout Europe the species has declined dramatically since World War II (Potts 1986). This continues in Italy despite large-scale releases of birds for hunting, which originate from captivity or have been imported from Denmark and Eastern Europe. Only a few self-sustaining populations exist and even the largest (12000 individual in autumn has decreased drastically since the early 1990s.

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Mediterranean Shag
(Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii)
Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii is the subspecies endemic of the Mediterranean. Its biology and population figures are not well studied. The species breeding range includes
all EU Member States along the mediterranean coast and Gibraltar. All experts agree on the fact that its population has undergone a decrease in numbers. It nests on rocky coasts and islets feeding on coastal fish. It is very sensitive to disturbance during breeding and at roosting sites. The subspecies is endemic to the Mediterranean basin. The total population was estimated to be less than 10.000 pairs, half of them breeding in the EU (Eastern coast of Spain, Baleares, Corsica, Sardinia, Tuscany archipelago, Lampedusa, Crete and islets of the Ionian sea). Very significant fluctuations in breeding numbers have been noted from year to year in several different Mediterranean colonies. Censuses are quite difficult and need to be co-ordinated for all the colonies in a given region. The species is protected in all the member states of the European Union. Estimates of the total breeding population are incomplete and not globally updated since the 1980s. Some of the breeding sites have been protected since the last review but many known breeding sites within the European Union lack any form of protection or their protection is not effectively implemented. Many islets and cliffs where the species breeds are designated as SPAs, but only some colonies are located in effectively protected areas

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Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus mauretanicus)
The Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) is an endemic species from Balearic Islands. Formerly was considered as a race of the Manx Shearwater but its taxonomic position has been recently reviewed and considered to be a separate species. The total population is about 3.000 pairs, breeding mainly in Formentera cliffs. The main part of the population breeds under boulders, in islands, caves and crevices of cliffs, where census is impossible except by indirect estimates. Breeding season stretches from September to late June. Just one egg are laid, with a reproductive success of 66,8 % in average. Is extremely philopatric. The species feed on shoaling Clupeiforms, mainly Sardina sp, catch by pursue-diving. During the breeding season the main feeding areas are on the Eastern Iberian Peninsula coast. The taxon is in danger of extinction, some colonies have disappeared in the second half of the 20th century and the global breeding population has decreased. Most recent estimation trend suggests that the Balearic Shearwater Puffinus (yelkouan) mauretanicus is endangered. The species included in the Red Book of Spanish Vertebrates in the Vulnerable category and in the Llista Vermella dels Vertebrats de les Balears (Balearic Red List) in the same category.

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Roseate Tern (Sterna dougalii)
The Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii was identified as ‘near-threatened’ in the ICBP World Checklist of Threatened Birds, but was not so listed in 1994. It is classified as a ‘SPEC 3’ species and ‘Endangered in Europe’ because of its large decline in numbers. It has a restricted distribution in Europe, breeding only in a few coastal localities in north west
Europe and on small Atlantic islands (Azores and a small number of pairs in Madeira/Selvagens and the Canaries). The population appears to be increasing in Ireland (after former large decreases), but with a corresponding decrease in the UK and France. Numbers are also thought to have declined on the Azores. Wintering areas are poorly known, but include inshore waters of Ghana and adjacent countries of West Africa, at least early in the non-breeding season. Europe holds around 3% of the global population of the Roseate Tern, with two separate breeding populations. The smaller population is found only very locally in the UK, Ireland and France, but the European stronghold is the Azores (Portugal), which hold about two thirds of the European population. The Roseate Tern has bred in small numbers in Spain (mainland and the Canary Islands), Madeira, southern France, western Germany and perhaps Denmark. See Annex for recent data. It was apparently formerly abundant in Tunisia but no longer breeds there. Both European breeding populations winter south to southern Africa. British, Irish and Azores ringing recoveries suggest that West Africa, particularly Ghana, is the main wintering area, although trapping here may give a higher proportion of recoveries than elsewhere.

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Macaronesian Sparrowhawk
(Accipiter nisus granti)
Endemic subspecies of the Canaries and Madeira archipelagos. In the Canaries, the species is present in Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and Gran Canaria Islands. Possible breeding on the eastern islands and islets was suggested in the past, but there are no recent confirmed records. Currently it is possible to see it in winter and during migration. The population has been estimated at 200 pairs. The main portion of the population can be found in Tenerife and La Palma islands (75 and 50 pairs respectively). La Gomera and El Hierro has around 25 to 20 pairs respectively. In the same study no birds were observed in Gran Canaria Island, but breeding was recorded in 1994. Expansion of the Sparrowhawk in the last year has been detected on Gran Canaria Island. It has been recorded in a minimum area of 17 5 x 5 km squares. The species in the Madeira Archipelago is only present at Madeira Island. Although, no census has been carried out, it is considered abundant in this island. There are no specific studies on the species in the Canaries after the 1987 census. The population seems to maintain a good conservation status, and even increases in some sites. For example, at Garajonay National Park, was found the Sparrowhawk distributed across the whole park. In Gran Canaria Is., also it was found it in most of the 5×5 km square that are occupied by adequate forest. In addition, it is important to take into account that most of the forested area in the Canaries Islands, to which this species is closely linked, is currently protected. In Madeira, the species has a favourable conservation status.

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Corso-sardinian Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis arrigonii)
The subspecies of Goshawk Accipiter gentilis arrigonii is confined to the islands of Sardinia (Italy) and Corsica (France). 1.2 Population and trend The population estimate for Corsica is 50 – 80 pairs and 60 – 80 pairs for Sardinia. The lack of previous figures do not allow any trend to be identified, but at least in Sardinia the forest cover has decreased since the beginning of the 20th century, thus probably the local Goshawk population has decreased as well. pairs. It is included in Annex II of the Bern Convention and Annex II of the Bonn Convention. The subspecies Accipiter g. arrigonii is listed in Annex I of the Bird Directive. French law allows under the taking of young goshawks under licence to be used for falconry, but licences have not been issued recently in Corsica. In Italy the species is fully protected.

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Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
The biogeographical population of the partially migratory Red Kite Milvus milvus, which is the subject of this action plan, breeds across Europe from Portugal to Hungary, north to Denmark and southern Sweden. Successful reintroduction projects have resulted in newly established populations in a number of localities in England and Scotland, where it was previously extinct. Populations in the UK are largely resident, but elsewhere in the EU most of the populations move south and west to a varying extent, many of them wintering in Spain and Portugal. The most important breeding populations in Europe are found in Germany, with an estimated 10,500-13,000 breeding pairs, France (3,000-3,900 bp) and Spain (2,000-2,200 bp). The Red Kite has been listed as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List (2008), because it is experiencing a moderately rapid population decline, owing mostly to changes in land-use and poisoning from pesticides and persecution, among other threats. Evidence that the population is undergoing a rapid decline would probably qualify it for a higher threat category (BirdLife International 2008).

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Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata)
In all of its breeding range the Semi-collared Flycatcher has patchy distribution as it occupies only suitable breeding habitats, which are now highly fragmented. Generally, the exact distribution of the species is poorly documented and is deduced from observations of certain breeding pairs or pairs seen in suitable habitat during the breeding season. Migration routes of the Semi-collared Flycatcher are also not studied, but are most probably on wide front in spring and more congregated in autumn (Cramp et al. 1994). The birds breeding in Greece, FYR Macedonia, western Bulgaria and Albania may fly above the Mediterranean Sea and enter Africa near the Nile Delta. The populations from central to eastern Bulgaria, Turkey and Caucasus region follow a more easterly route along the Turkish Aegean coast through Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Some passages are recorded in Cyprus. During spring migration there are several records on both sides of the Persian Gulf: the Musandam peninsula (Oman), the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Lavan Island (Iran). These records imply that the passages which breed in north-eastern Iran may fly above the Persian Gulf and then southwards through Arabian Peninsula to Africa above Red Sea. The population in Iraq probably migrates diffusely through the Arabian Peninsula to Africa above the Red Sea. The European breeding population is poorly estimated but is considered to be between 15, 000 – 53, 000 pairs (BirdLife 2004). For the purpose of this action plan, targeted data was collected from 10 countries which resulted in a new estimate for the minimum of 5,300 to 34,400 pairs. The Bulgarian and Macedonian populations are considered to be stable but the key populations in Turkey and Russia suffer a moderate decline (>10%) (BirdLife 2004). Breeding density was calculated by Lurnberg (1997) based on study of Curio (1959) from Central Macedonia in Greece (Fagus sp. forest) and was around ca. 0,6-0,7 pairs/ha.

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Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug)
The Saker Falco cherrug qualifies as Globally Endangered because it has undergone a very rapid population decline, particularly on the central Asian breeding grounds, owing to inadequately controlled capture for the falconry trade. It is a large falcon roughly between Gyrfalcon F. rusticolus and Peregrine F. peregrinus in size. In the Western Palearctic, occurs across continental middle latitudes; mainly in wooded steppe, steppe, and foothills, often bordering or overlapping forests. The Saker Falco cherrug qualifies as Globally Endangered because it has undergone a very rapid population decline, particularly on the central Asian breeding grounds, owing to inadequately controlled capture for the falconry trade (BirdLife International 2006). It is also Endangered in Europe due to large declines and its very small population size (BirdLife International 2004). The total European breeding population of the species is estimated at 584-686 pairs by the workshop participants. This is slightly higher than presented by BirdLife International (2004) mainly due to discovering some 120 new pairs in Ukraine. Data quality is mostly good in Central Europe, but less so in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Europe holds about 8% of the global population of Sakers, estimated at 7,200-8,800 (BirdLife International 2006). Habitat use and food requirements are generally well known in countries with larger breeding populations. In general, it may be that birds in Central Europe feed more on birds and are associated more with cultivated land while in the east small rodents are more important in the species’ diet. In most countries, the species breeds in only a few IBAs or protected areas. Usually, the breeding pairs in existing or potential protected areas represent a relatively small proportion of the national breeding population, which reflects the species fairly dispersed distribution pattern.

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Duponts Lark (chersophilus duponti)
Dupont’s Lark is classified as “Near Threatened” in the IUCN Red List of globally threatened species (BirdLife International 2008) and it is one of the most threatened Passerines in Europe. It is present only in the Iberian Peninsula where populations have shown a clearly negative trend leading to extinction of isolated ones. The last census has estimated the size of the population between 3,500 and 4,000 males spread over 11 autonomous regions and nearly 150,000 ha. Besides, this species appears in North African countries, the biggest population being in Morocco and probably in Algeria. Iberian population is isolated geographically and genetically from northern African populations. The main cause of this decrease has been the loss and degradation of habitats, caused by changes in land use, introduction of new crops, reforestation and proliferation of wind farms. These, along with abandonment of livestock grazing have resulted in loss of scrub – steppe associations, preferred by the species for breeding.

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Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
The species has suffered a large decline across most of its range. In India the decline, (presumably resulting from poisoning by the veterinary drug Diclofenac) has been catastrophic: >35% per year since 1999 and 68% between 2000 and 2003 (Culthber et al. 2006). The resident populations within Africa also appear to have declined, including those in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Angola and Namibia (where just 10 pairs remain). Across much of Africa residents are now outnumbered by migrant European breeders. Similar declines are reported from the Middle East, e.g. 50-75% in Israel, although in Oman the population is apparently stable and 1,000 birds are resident in a stable population on the island of Socotra (BirdLife International 2008). In Europe the population has declined by 50% in the last three generations (50 years). It has disappeared form Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and probably Moldova, and recently has declined, with an even faster pace, in all other countries and in particular in the Balkans. The only European populations currently increasing are in France and Canary Islands.

(text derived from SAP)

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