Pyrrhula murina 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Fringillidae

Scientific Name: Pyrrhula murina Godman, 1866
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Azores Bullfinch
Taxonomic Source(s): Ramos, J. A. 1993. Status and ecology of the Priolo or Azores Bullfinch. Thesis. Ph.D., Oxford, UK:University of Oxford.
Taxonomic Notes: Pyrrhula pyrrhula (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into P. pyrrhula and P. murina following Ramos (1993) contra AERC TAC (2003).

Identification information: 17 cm. Medium-sized, plump, short-winged, long-tailed, dull coloured finch. Black cap and facial area, tail and wings. Grey lesser covert and greater covert wing-bar. Brown back. Grey nape and uppertail-coverts. Pinkish-brown underparts. Some males appear to have slight reddish-tawny underparts, but this is often difficult to see. Voice Plaintive phew contact call.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-03-31
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Burfield, I., Ieronymidou, C., Pople, R., Wheatley, H. & Wright, L
European regional assessment: Endangered (EN)
EU27 regional assessment: Endangered (EN)

This species, endemic to Europe and the EU27, is listed as Endangered as it occurs at only one locality and has a very small range, within which the quality of habitat is thought to be decreasing due the spread of invasive plant species. However, should the population continue to be stable or increase thanks to successful conservation action and despite the spread of invasives, the species may warrant downlisting in the near future.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species is endemic to the Azores, Portugal, where it is confined to the east of the island of São Miguel (Clement and Christie 2013).
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:102Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:140
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):700
Range Map:22720676-1

Population [top]

Population:The European population is estimated at 230-760 pairs, which equates to 450-1,500 mature individuals. The entire population is found in the EU27. For details of national estimates, see the supplementary material.

Trend Justification:  The population size is estimated to be stable. For details of national estimates, see attached PDF.
For further information about this species, see 22720676_pyrrhula_murina.pdf.
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Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:450-1500,830Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species appears to depend on the native laurissilva forest during the winter and spring, although seeds from the exotic Clethra arborea may be a critical food in December and January (Ceia et al. 2011b). In the summer and autumn (May–November) its habitat use is more conservative, and birds utilise bare ground, vegetation less than 2 m high and also forest margins. Exotic vegetation such as plantations of Japanese red cedar Cryptomeria japonica within 200 m of native forest is also used during summer (Ceia et al. 2009). Birds breed from mid-June to late August, with a clutch size of three eggs (Teodósio et al. 2009). The nest is a cup of twigs, dry grass, plant fibres and moss, placed up to 5 m above ground in conifer, usually cedar (Clement and Christie 2013). The diet comprises of at least 37 different plants of which 13 are known to be important (Ramos 1995). The species appears entirely dependent on native forest for food during many months of the year (Ramos 1995, Ceia et al. 2011). This species is resident but movements of up to 5.8 km between native forest patches have been recorded as birds move to feed on ripening seeds (Ceia 2008).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):4.8
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The historical decline and its extremely small range are believed to be a consequence of the widespread clearance of native forest for forestry plantations and agriculture. The spread of alien invasive plant species (especially Hedychium gardnerianum, Clethra arborea and Pittosporum undulatum), which have largely overrun the remaining patches of natural vegetation, suppress the natural fruit, seed and bud food supply to the species (G. Hilton in litt. 2006). The species exhibits a preference for non-invaded laurel forest habitat (Ceia et al. 2011), and is entirely absent from highly invaded areas (e.g. P. undulatum copses (Ceia et al. 2009)). Food shortages are potentially a problem throughout the year, but are most severe in late winter (Ceia et al. 2011b). Random environmental and demographic factors can affect such small populations and inbreeding may reduce reproductive output. Predation by introduced rats and mustelids may also be affecting nesting success (G. Hilton in litt. 2006, Ceia 2008, Teodósio et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The species is protected under Portuguese law. Pico da Vara/Ribeira do Guilherme has been designated as a Special Protected Area, and this was enlarged to 6,067 ha in 2005 (LIFE Priolo Project 2007). Ecological research was conducted during 1991-1993 and habitat management began in 1995. A short booklet on the species has been distributed to schools in São Miguel. A species action plan was published in 1996, and a second action plan was produced in 2009 (Teodósio et al. 2009). A number of actions have already been implemented as part of an ongoing EU LIFE-Nature project for the species, including the development of a management plan for the SPA, the clearance of invasive plant species and replanting with native species in over 70 ha in the core of the species's range and the planting of traditional fruit trees at lower altitudes (Teodósio 2005; Teodósio 2006, LIFE Priolo Project 2007). During 2005-2007, 156 individuals were captured and colour-ringed (Ceia 2008), and 'visual recapture' monitoring of these birds continues (SPEA 2009). As part of the BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions programme Species Guardian, SPEA (Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves), are implementing the following actions (SPEA 2009): habitat management including the creation of fruit tree orchards, clearance of alien invasive plant species and planting native species in the core area and buffer zones; raising public awareness through production of a website, CD-ROM, brochures and school kits, and through collaboration with the regional Ministry of Tourism on nature trails and tourist information; evaluating the economic benefits of the project and analysing the ecosystem services offered by the protected area; establishing an interactive Environmental Interpretation Centre with displays about the species, native laurel forest and the threats both face; and researching and monitoring population size, distribution and habitat quality. The first complete census took place in 2008, involving 48 volunteers surveying all suitable habitat in a single day (SPEA 2009). The São Miguel Natural Park, including Pico de Vara SPA, was classified in July 2008, and a management plan is to be developed by the regional government. In September 2006, recently fledged juveniles were seen at Salto do Cavalo (R. Ceia in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue and expand the population monitoring scheme. Investigate the possibility of breeding at Salto do Cavalo. Continue the removal and exclusion of exotic flora. Continue the replanting of native vegetation (particularly key food plants). Monitor the species's response to ongoing habitat restoration. Promote land use changes in the buffer areas around the SPA. Investigate the impact of rat predation on nesting success.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2015. Pyrrhula murina. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22720676A60288086. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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