Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Fringillidae

Scientific Name: Serinus syriacus
Species Authority: Bonaparte, 1851
Common Name(s):
English Syrian Serin
Taxonomic Source(s): AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Identification information: 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.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Taylor, J. & Butchart, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Symes, A.
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.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Vulnerable (VU)
2004 Vulnerable (VU)
2000 Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Near Threatened (NT)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Serinus syriacus has a restricted range, breeding in mountains (900-1,900 m) in Lebanon, Syria, Israel (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.

Countries occurrence:
Egypt; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Lebanon; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Syrian Arab Republic
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 7400
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Lower elevation limit (metres): 900
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1800
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: 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.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 2500-9999 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It breeds in rocky tracts of open or semi-arid Mediterranean woodland, usually dominated by conifers such as Cedrus, Pinus, Abies and Juniperus (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).

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 3.8
Movement patterns: Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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 [top]

Conservation Actions: 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).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Serinus syriacus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22720053A38295132. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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