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Arabian Waxbill Estrilda rufibarba
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This species has a very 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, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to 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.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
This species is endemic to Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It occurs in the mesic uplands of the Tihamah foothills (occasionally straying onto the lowland Tihamah proper (Jennings 1995)), including the eastern fringe of the montane plateau in Yemen (Christensen and Porter 1987). It is most frequently recorded in the southern Tihamah foothills and the lower slopes and Wadis of the western escarpments in Yemen. It is also found locally along the south coast of Yemen east to Wadi al-Jahr and, apparently disjunctly, in the extensively irrigated intensive agricultural areas of Wadi Hadramawt between Shibam and Tarim (Martins et al. 1996).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as rare in southern Saudi Arabia and southern Yemen and slightly commoner in North Yemen (Clement 1999).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline due to habitat loss as a result of the increasing use of modern agricultural techniques in parts of its range.

This species is highly social, and occurs from 250-2,500 m in fertile cultivated Wadis, plains, rocky hillsides and terraced slopes, usually with a dense cover of trees and bushes (Meinertzhagen 1954). The species roosts communally in this dense vegetation, and recently fledged juveniles have been recorded in May (Martins et al. 1996). It has become closely associated with regularly irrigated agricultural areas (especially cereal cultivation) which provide accessible drinking water. In a survey between July and September 1982-85, 73.5% of observations were in areas with flowing water. Modern irrigation techniques (increasing farmed areas adjacent to surface water) are beneficial to the species.

Recent use of imported agricultural machinery in Yemen has destroyed some traditional sites (Christensen and Porter 1987), particularly those in the Tihamah foothills (an area characterised by seasonally heavy precipitation and with a water table close to ground level for short periods annually) where local environmental factors used to maintain localised small marshes and damp areas with Typha stands until c.1985 when agricultural techniques began to change. Regular roost sites are being destroyed through burning and land-use change.

Christensen, S.; Porter, R. F. 1987. The Arabian Waxbill in North Yemen. Sandgrouse: 98-101.

Clement, P.; Harris, A.; Davis, J. 1999. Finches and sparrows. Christopher Helm, London.

Jennings, M. C. 1995. An interim atlas of the breeding birds of Arabia. National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, Riyadh.

Martins, R. P.; Bradshaw, C. G.; Brown, A.; Kirwan, G. M.; Porter, R. F. 1996. The status of passerines in southern Yemen and the records of the OSME survey in spring 1993. Sandgrouse 17: 54-72.

Meinertzhagen, R. 1954. Birds of Arabia. Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh.

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., Butchart, S., Harding, M., Fisher, S.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Estrilda rufibarba. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Estrildidae (Waxbills, grass finches, munias and allies)
Species name author (Cabanis, 1851)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 86,100 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species