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Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 596,000
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 596,000
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 3.6 - - -
Population justification: In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 2,800,000-9,300,000 breeding pairs, equating to 8,400,000-27,900,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Europe forms 50-74% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 11,400,000-55,800,000 individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
Trend justification: The population is suspected to be in decline owing to changing agricultural practices and the removal of hedges and shrubs from parts of its range In Europe, trends since 1980 are uncertain, based on provisional data for 21 countries from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands; P. Vorisek in litt. 2008).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan Vagrant Extant      
Albania Native Extant Yes    
Algeria Vagrant Extant      
Armenia Native Extant Yes    
Austria Vagrant Extant      
Azerbaijan Native Extant Yes    
Bahrain Native Extant     Yes
Bosnia and Herzegovina Native Extant Yes    
Brunei Vagrant Extant      
Bulgaria Native Extant Yes    
China (mainland) Vagrant Extant      
Croatia Native Extant Yes    
Cyprus Native Extant Yes    
Czech Republic Vagrant Extant      
Denmark Vagrant Extant      
Egypt Native Extant      
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant      
Finland Vagrant Extant      
France Vagrant Extant      
Georgia Native Extant Yes    
Germany Vagrant Extant      
Greece Native Extant Yes   Yes
Hong Kong (China) Vagrant Extant      
Iceland Vagrant Extant      
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant Yes   Yes
Iraq Native Extant Yes    
Ireland Vagrant Extant      
Israel Native Extant Yes    
Italy Native Extant Yes    
Japan Vagrant Extant      
Jordan Native Extant Yes   Yes
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes    
Kuwait Native Extant     Yes
Laos Vagrant Extant      
Latvia Vagrant Extant      
Lebanon Native Extant Yes   Yes
Libya Vagrant Extant      
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant Yes    
Malaysia Vagrant Extant      
Malta Vagrant Extant      
Montenegro Native Extant Yes    
Morocco Vagrant Extant      
Nepal Native Extant      
Netherlands Vagrant Extant      
Norway Vagrant Extant      
Oman Native Extant     Yes
Palau Vagrant Extant      
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant Yes   Yes
Poland Vagrant Extant      
Qatar Native Extant     Yes
Romania Native Extant Yes    
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes    
Saudi Arabia Native Extant     Yes
Serbia Native Extant Yes    
Slovakia Vagrant Extant      
Slovenia Native Extant Yes    
South Korea Vagrant Extant      
Spain Vagrant Extant      
Sri Lanka Vagrant Extant   Yes  
Sweden Vagrant Extant      
Switzerland Vagrant Extant      
Syria Native Extant Yes   Yes
Thailand Vagrant Extant      
Tunisia Vagrant Extant      
Turkey Native Extant Yes    
Ukraine Native Extant Yes    
United Arab Emirates Native Extant     Yes
United Kingdom Native Extant Yes    

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Armenia Amasia site factsheet
Bulgaria Arda Bridge site factsheet
Bulgaria Byala Reka site factsheet
Bulgaria Dobrostan site factsheet
Bulgaria Krumovitza site factsheet
Bulgaria Melnik Pyramids site factsheet
Bulgaria Studen Kladenets site factsheet
Cyprus Adelphoi Forest - Papoutsa site factsheet
Cyprus Akamas and Agia Aikaterini – Agia Paraskevi Gorges site factsheet
Cyprus Karpasia Peninsula - Kleides Islands site factsheet
Cyprus Mahairas Forest – Tzionia site factsheet
Cyprus Pentadaktylos Mountains site factsheet
Cyprus Xyllourikos Valley site factsheet
Greece Acheron delta and gorge site factsheet
Greece Akarnanika mountains site factsheet
Greece Dadias-Dereiou-Aisimis forest site factsheet
Greece Lake Distos site factsheet
Greece Mavrovouni mountain, Larissa site factsheet
Greece Mount Olympos, Lesvos site factsheet
Greece Mount Ymittos site factsheet
Greece Protected area of Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli forest site factsheet
Greece South forest complex of Evros prefecture site factsheet
Greece South-west peninsula-petrified forest, Lesvos site factsheet
Greece Thessaly plain site factsheet
Lebanon Shouf Cedars Nature Reserve site factsheet
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Demir Kapija Gorge site factsheet
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Gradsko-Rosoman-Negotino site factsheet
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Lake Tikvesh site factsheet
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Mariovo site factsheet
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of River Pchinja-river Petroshnica-river Kriva Reka site factsheet
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of River Topolka-river Babuna-river Bregalnica site factsheet
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Taor Gorge site factsheet
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Tikvesh Region site factsheet
Montenegro Lake Skadar site factsheet
Russia (European) Teberdinski Nature Reserve site factsheet
Syria Jabal Slenfeh site factsheet
Syria Mount Hermon site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Pastureland suitable breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Pastureland suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Plantations suitable breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Plantations suitable non-breeding
Grassland Temperate suitable breeding
Grassland Temperate suitable non-breeding
Shrubland Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation suitable breeding
Shrubland Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation suitable non-breeding
Shrubland Temperate suitable breeding
Shrubland Temperate suitable non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Emberiza melanocephala. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Emberizidae (Buntings, American sparrows and allies)
Species name author Scopoli, 1769
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 596,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species