This species is classified as Vulnerable because the small population, which was once thought to be stable, appears to have declined at key sites since 1996, principally owing to the effects of a drought exacerbating the threat from grazing pressure.
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _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.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Distribution and populationSerinus syriacus
12 cm. Small, rather long-tailed and 'open-faced' canary. Rather unmarked pale olive-yellow-grey plumage which largely lacks streaking (except mantle). Forehead and eyering bright yellow as are greater coverts and fringes of inner flight feathers and tail. Similar spp. Easily distinguished from Serin S. serinus by larger size and lack of prominent streaking. Voice Long trilling, chirping, twittering and jingling refrains.
has a restricted range, breeding in mountains (900-1,900 m) in Lebanon
(Mount Hermon) and Jordan
(Evans 1994, Baumgart 1995, Khoury 1998, Ramadan-Jaradi and Ramadan-Jaradi 1999). The small population comprises 1,000-1,250 mature individuals in Jordan (Khoury 1999) and 100-360 in Israel (Evans 1994), but there are no national population estimates for Syria ("local" [Baumgart 1995]) or Lebanon (described as "very common" with an estimate of 3,500 pairs in total at Qammouha, Horj Ehden, Tannourine and Arz Al-Chouf protected areas [Ramadan-Jaradi and Ramadan-Jaradi 1999, 2002]). In winter, birds in Jordan disperse locally (Khoury 1998), while the breeding grounds in Lebanon, Syria and Israel are completely vacated (Evans 1994, Baumgart 1995, Ramadan-Jaradi and Ramadan-Jaradi 1999) for wintering grounds that probably comprise desert and semi-arid country at lower altitudes (near water) throughout the Levant and as far afield as Egypt
(Sinai and Nile valley) and Iraq
(Evans 1994, Baumgart 1995, Khoury 1999, Ramadan-Jaradi and Ramadan-Jaradi 1999). The Jordanian breeding population is declining: the Al-Barrah population in the Dana Nature Reserve has declined by c.20% and their area of occupancy has decreased by 25% since 1996. In addition, marginal areas of their breeding distribution in 1996 were unoccupied in 1999 (Khoury 2000). This suggests a decrease in population size and the population was estimated as 500 pairs, with 480 in Al-Barrah in the 1999 breeding season. Previous population estimates in Jordan were in the range 1,000-1,250 mature individuals (Khoury 1999) and this recent estimate therefore represents a decline of c.20%. During the 1999 breeding season no Syrian Serins were recorded in other areas of south-west Jordan (e.g. Al-Hishi woodland) or northern Jordan (Mediterranean woodland) that would have been suitable as alternative feeding sites to avoid the drought. The decline in population size therefore does not seem to represent a shift in population distribution. Population justification
The population is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, equating to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.Trend justification
There are no new data on population trends, but the species is suspected to be in decline at a moderately rapid rate, owing to the synergistic effects of drought and grazing.Ecology
It breeds in rocky tracts of open or semi-arid Mediterranean woodland, usually dominated by conifers such as Cedrus
(Evans 1994, Baumgart 1995, Khoury 1998, Ramadan-Jaradi and Ramadan-Jaradi 1999). It is a tree-nester that feeds on the seeds of low annual and perennial grasses and herbs and requires daily access to drinking water (Khoury 1998)
The species is potentially seriously affected by excessive tree-cutting, grazing and water abstraction. Breeding numbers in 1999 were low (Khoury 1999) and the population was estimated to have decreased by c. 20% since 1996 to 500 breeding pairs (Khoury 2000). This decline is likely to be partly due to reduced survival rates following a severe drought in the winter 1998-1999, which caused a decline in seed production and in the number of water pools. The drought conditions further enhance declines in habitat quality caused by grazing pressure and wood cutting. Hunting may be a potential threat in some parts of the range.Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix I. The main breeding locations in Jordan and Israel, and three such areas in Lebanon, are protected (Evans 1994). Monitoring at the Jordanian breeding area (the only well-studied site) started in 1995. Awareness-raising activities have been carried out around the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve IBA in Lebanon (Dakdouk et al.
2005).Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out baseline surveys of population size and distribution in Syria and Lebanon. Institute monitoring of populations outside Jordan. Monitor, investigate and reverse the population decline in Jordan. Further investigate impact of livestock grazing on its habitat in south-west Jordan (Khoury 2000)
Related state of the world's birds case studies
Baumgart, W. 1995. Die Vögel Syriens. Max Kasparek, Heidelberg.
Dakdouk, S.; Hamdan, S.; Jamal, N.; Rachid, G. 2005. The conservation of the Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus in the Al-Shouf Cedars Nature Reserve in Lebanon, 2005.
Evans, M. I. 1994. Important Bird Areas in the Middle East. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Khoury, F. 1998. Habitat selection by Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus in south-west Jordan. Sandgrouse 20: 87-93.
Khoury, F. 1999. Serinus syriacus.
Khoury, F. 2000. The impact of drought conditions on the winter distribution and population of Syrian Serin Serinus syricaus in south-west Jordan. Sandgrouse 22: 64-66.
Ramadan-Jaradi, G.; Ramadan-Jaradi, M. 1999. An updated checklist of the birds of Lebanon. Sandgrouse 21: 132-170.
Ramadan-Jaradi, G.; Ramadan-Jaradi, M. 2002. Population Size of the Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus and Other Ornithological Records from Lebanon. Lebanese Science Journal 3(1): 27.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Symes, A.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Serinus syriacus. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 10/03/2014.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 10/03/2014.
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
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Additional resources for this species