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Yemen Thrush Turdus menachensis

Justification
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because its population is likely to be small and in decline owing to the loss and degradation of its montane woodland habitat.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Identification
23 cm. Medium-sized, rather plain, brown thrush. Throat is streaked blackish. Some spotting on breast of some individuals. In flight shows orange underwing-coverts. May show dirty orange wash on flanks when perched. Stout bill is orange-yellow and legs vary from flesh-coloured to yellow (Bowden 1987). Voice Fluty song is series of high-pitched phrases, mostly heard at dawn. Most typical call is explosive chuck-chuck. Hints Can be very skulking and remain motionless for long periods (Porter et al. 1996). Best located by call.

Distribution and population
Turdus menachensis is endemic to the south-western Arabian peninsula, occurring in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, north to 21°N (Bowden 1987). It is strictly montane (Porter et al. 1996) and has a very local distribution, being generally scarce (Bowden 1987) where it occurs (although occasionally numerous in some areas [Stagg 1984, Jennings et al. 1988, Newton and Newton 1996]). Given that so much of its range contains unsuitable habitat, its population seems likely to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals. However, the population has been estimated at c.10,000 pairs (Jennings 2010), implying that there is a population of c.20,000 adults (M. Jennings in litt. 2012), thus the population estimate used in this assessment may need to be revised.


Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 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 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
There are no new data on population trends; however, the species is suspected to be declining slowly, owing to habitat loss and degradation.

Ecology
It is confined to areas with a dense cover of native trees and shrubs - thus occurring in woodlands, thickets, copses, orchards and large gardens, although foraging in more open habitats if dense wooded cover is nearby (Stagg 1984, Bowden 1987, Jennings et al. 1988, Newton and Newton 1996, Porter et al. 1996). At the lowest altitudes, it is restricted to such vegetation along watercourses. At most localities it appears to be sedentary, but there may be altitudinal or latitudinal movements in the north of its range (Stagg 1984). The diet includes fruit (e.g. Rosa, Juniperus, Ficus) and terrestrial invertebrates (Phillips 1982, Bowden 1987). Breeding occurs from March to June, the nest being 1-2 m above ground in a bush or tree-fork, usually in dense cover (Bowden 1987).

Threats
Lopping and cutting of trees and shrubs, for fuel, fodder and building material, are proceeding at unsustainable levels in many parts of Yemen (Bowden 1987, Scholte et al. 1991) (where the human population is expanding rapidly), and are likely therefore to be causing a net loss of dense wooded cover. Abandonment of wooded agricultural terraces at lower altitudes in the species's range is leading to massive loss of topsoil and further reduction of wooded cover (Scholte et al. 1991). Loss of well-wooded land to building, infrastructural and agricultural developments may also be a threat in Saudi Arabia. Altogether, these threats imply that the species's population is likely to be decreasing. A lack of tree regeneration, owing to high levels of grazing and browsing by livestock, has been observed at several sites and may be a problem.


Conservation Actions Underway
There are many traditional rangeland reserves (mahjur) in south-west Arabia, where trees and ground plant cover are protected by private or communal ownership-rights from excessive exploitation, in order to provide fodder in times of drought (Scholte et al. 1991). However, the management of these areas has been widely neglected or abandoned since the advent of more convenient supplies of supplemental feed (Scholte et al. 1991). The species occurs in at least two protected areas in Saudi Arabia: Raydah Reserve and Asir National Park (Jennings et al. 1988, Newton and Newton 1996). Conservation Actions Proposed
Encourage non-intensive agroforestry practices. Conduct field surveys to estimate its population size. Study the effects of different forestry practices on species density and breeding success.

References
Bowden, C. G. R. 1987. The Yemen Thrush in North Yemen. Sandgrouse: 87-89.

Jennings, M. C. 2010. Atlas of the breeding birds of Arabia. Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Frankfurt am Main, Germany and Riyadh.

Jennings, M. C.; al Salama, M. I.; Felemban, H. M. 1988. Report on an ornithological survey of the Asir National Park, Saudi Arabia: 29 June to 18 July 1987. National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, Riyadh.

Newton, S. F.; Newton, A. V. 1996. Seasonal changes in the abundance and diversity of birds in threatened juniper forest in the southern Asir mountains, Saudi Arabia. Bird Conservation International 6: 371-392.

Phillips, N. R. 1982. Observations on the birds of North Yemen. Sandgrouse: 37-59.

Scholte, P.; Khuleidi, A. W. A.; Kessler, J. J. 1991. The vegetation of the Republic of Yemen (western part). Environmental Protection Council and Agricultural Research Authority, Dhamar, Yemen.

Stagg, A. H. 1984. The birds of S.W. Saudi Arabia. A. H. Stagg, Riyadh.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., Martins, R., Taylor, J.

Contributors
Al-Sagheir, O., Jennings, M., Porter, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Turdus menachensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/10/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/10/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Yemen thrush (Turdus menachensis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Turdidae (Thrushes)
Species name author Ogilvie-Grant, 1913
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 66,700 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species