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Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has a small range and a moderately small population. The taxon F. t. polatzeki of Gran Canaria is rare and highly threatened, but the area of suitable habitat on Tenerife (the majority of the range) is increasing overall, which suggests that the population is also increasing, and the range is not severely fragmented. However, forest fires remain a serious and plausible potential threat and have the potential cause a rapid population decline which would warrant the species being uplisted to Vulnerable or Endangered. For this reason, the species is classified as Near Threatened. Were appropriate action to be taken which reduces the risk of serious fires such that they no longer represent a plausible threat, the species may be eligible for downlisting to Least Concern in the future.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

16-17 cm. Relatively uniform, bluish-grey finch. Adult male has blue-grey head, back and underparts with paler chin and throat. Black wings at close range showing two wing-bars. Dull black tail. Light blue bill with black tip in breeding season. Grey-brown legs. Adult female same plumage pattern as male but greyish olive-brown above and brownish ashy-grey below. Wing bars more apparent. Similar spp. Chaffinch F. coelebs less robust and shorter tail. Plumage less uniform and wing markings more striking. Voice Short accelerating and descending series of notes.

Distribution and population
Fringilla teydea is found only on Tenerife (subspecies teydea) and Gran Canaria (subspecies polatzeki) in the Canary Islands, Spain. The total population is estimated to be 1,800-4,500 individuals, with the majority on Tenerife and approximately 250 individuals on Gran Canaria. On Gran Canaria it occupies a tiny range which is declining: it is restricted to patches of woodland totalling 3.6 km2 at Ojeda, Inagua and Pajonales. However, as the Gran Canaria race is such a small proportion of the total population, the species's overall range and population are effectively increasing due to positive trends in the area of suitable habitat on Tenerife (Barov and Derhé 2011). The subspecies on Gran Canaria continues to require intensive conservation efforts if it is to persist.

Population justification
The population was estimated at 1,000-2,500 pairs in 2004, equating to 2,000-5,000 mature individuals and roughly 3,000-7,500 individuals in total.

Trend justification
Although the tiny population on Gran Canaria continues to decline, it represents a small proportion of the global population, and overall trends are thought to be positive as the area of suitable habitat increases on Tenerife (Barov and Derhé 2011).

It is largely dependent on Canary pine Pinus canariensis and will inhabit reforested areas where these fall within the natural distribution of this tree. Although Canary pine seeds constitute its main food source, birds occasionally feed outside pinewoods during severe weather. During the breeding season, it is found in pinewoods at 1,000-2,000 m with a high proportion of broom Chamaecytisus proliferus in the understorey. The species selects sheltered sites for feeding during the non-breeding period, with the selection of less sheltered sites mediated by pine seed availability (Garcia-del-Rey et al. 2009). It is been recorded from 800 to 2,300m at other times. The breeding season lasts from April to early August. Two eggs are generally laid. The main cause of breeding failure is predation, mostly by the Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major (Rodríguez and Moreno 2008).

It suffers from being captured and kept in cages, and possibly also still from illegal trade, primarily to Italy, Germany and Belgium, which may have an effect on population levels. Its pinewood habitat has been subject to intense commercial exploitation which has resulted in habitat fragmentation and population isolation, particularly on Gran Canaria. Forest fires have been important in the destruction of pinewoods on Gran Canaria, most recently in the summer of 2007 when significant areas were destroyed including one of the most important sites on Gran Canaria. Protected areas are heavily used for recreation and leisure on Gran Canaria and this may cause disturbance. Inbreeding may also be a significant threat in the Gran Canaria population (Barov and Derhé 2011).

Conservation Actions Underway
It has been legally protected from hunting, capture, trade, egg or chick collection since 1980. Key areas on Gran Canaria have been protected since 1982 and El Teide forest on Tenerife and six important areas on Gran Canaria were designated as National Parks or Natural Areas in 1987. A conservation programme was initiated in 1991 and a captive breeding programme began in 1992. An action plan was published in 1996 (González 1996). Captive breeding on Gran Canaria was started anew in 2005, and the first chicks were expected to be released in 2010 (Barov and Derhé 2011). Fire prevention measures are implemented, particularly during the summer, and access to suitable habitat is limited on Gran Canaria. There is also an ongoing project that focuses on the restoration of fire-damaged pine forest on Gran Canaria. Control measures against alien species are being implemented on Tenerife and cats have been controlled on Gran Canaria since 1996. Research is being conducted into the potential threat of inbreeding in the population on Gran Canaria (Barov and Derhé 2011). Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitoring and research should be continued and expanded. An official governmental action plan should be produced to detail conservation requirements such as habitat restoration, prevention of forest fires and eradication of illegal trade. In addition, the species should be included under CITES and adequate protection should be ensured under the Countryside Law and Wildlife Protection Law. Forest management should focus on thinning areas of dense pine trees (as in García-del-Rey et al. 2010) where no undergrowth persists and reafforesting areas within the former range of pine forests on the islands (García-del-Rey and Cresswell 2005). Carry out further work to divert recreational activities from important sites. Conduct public awareness campaigns. Protect drinking sites.

Barov, B and Derhé, M. A. 2011. Review of The Implementation Of Species Action Plans for Threatened Birds in the European Union 2004-2010. Final report. BirdLife International For the European Commission.

BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Garcia-del-Rey, E.; Cresswell, W. 2005. Density estimates, microhabitat selection and foraging behaviour of the endemic Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea teydea on Tenerife (Canary Islands). Ardeola 52: 305-317.

Garcia-del-Rey, E.; Gil, L.; Nanos, N.; López-de-Heredia, U.; Muoz, P. G.; Fernndez-Palacios, J. M. 2009. Habitat characteristics and seed crops used by Blue Chaffinches Fringilla teydea in winter: implications for conservation management. Bird Study 56: 168-176.

Garcia-del-Rey, E.; Otto, R.; Fernndez-Palacios, J. M. 2010. Medium-term response of breeding Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea teydea to experimental thinning in a Pinus canariensis plantation (Tenerife, Canary Islands). Ornis Fennica 87: 180-188.

González, L. M. 1996. Action plan for the Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea. In: Heredia, B.; Rose, L.; Painter, M. (ed.), Globally threatened birds in Europe: action plans, pp. 339-346. Council of Europe, and BirdLife International, Strasbourg.

Rodríguez, F.; Moreno, A. C. 2008. Breeding biology of the endangered Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea polatzeki in Gran Canaria (Canary Islands). Acta Ornithologica 43(2): 207-215.

Further web sources of information
Action Plan

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Capper, D., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Peet, N., Taylor, J.

Iñigo, A.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Fringilla teydea. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Blue chaffinch (Fringilla teydea) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Fringillidae (Finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers)
Species name author Webb, Berthelot & Moquin-Tandon, 1841
Population size 2000-5000 mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 440 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment