Emberiza sulphurata 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Emberizidae

Scientific Name: Emberiza sulphurata
Species Authority: Temminck & Schlegel, 1848
Common Name(s):
English Yellow Bunting, Japanese Yellow Bunting
Identification information: 14 cm. Olive-green and yellow bunting. Black lores. Greenish-yellow crown, sides of head and hindneck. Olive-green mantle streaked with black. Olive-grey lower back, rump and uppertail-coverts. Lemon-yellow underparts becoming paler on belly and green and streaked on flanks. White tips to median and greater coverts form double wing-bar.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Allen, D.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Taylor, J.
This bunting qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a small and declining population, probably resulting from a combination of habitat loss, pesticide use and hunting throughout its range.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Vulnerable (VU)
2007 Vulnerable (VU)
2004 Vulnerable (VU)
2000 Vulnerable (VU)
1996 Vulnerable (VU)
1994 Vulnerable (VU)
1988 Threatened (T)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Emberiza sulphurata breeds in Japan, and is thought to winter mainly in the Philippines (where its stronghold may be Ilocos Norte [D. Allen in litt. 2012]), although some birds have wintered in Japan and Taiwan (China) in the past (BirdLife International 2001). There are non-breeding records, mainly of birds on passage, from North Korea, South Korea, Hong Kong (China) and the coast of mainland China and Taiwan. It is generally uncommon in its restricted breeding range in Japan, and it appears to have declined significantly during the 20th century.

Countries occurrence:
China; Hong Kong; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Philippines; Taiwan, Province of China
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 112000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 11-100
Continuing decline in number of locations: Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Lower elevation limit (metres): 600
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1500
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population is roughly estimated to be in the band c.2,500-9,999 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2001). This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals. National population estimates include: < c.1,000 individuals on migration and < c.1,000 wintering individuals in China; c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and < c.50 wintering individuals in Taiwan and < c.100,000 breeding pairs and < c.1,000 individuals on migration in Japan (Brazil 2009).

Trend Justification:  A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected to be occurring, as the species has become scarcer on its breeding grounds in Japan. Declines are likely to be occurring owing to habitat degradation and loss through agricultural intensification, as well as trapping for the cage-bird trade.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 2500-9999 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
No. of subpopulations: 1 Continuing decline in subpopulations: Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation: 100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It breeds from c.600-1,500 m, in deciduous and mixed forests, on wooded slopes and in high valleys, around woodland edges and in park-like areas with shrubs and thickets. It nests in bushes or on the ground. On migration, it occurs in shrubby clearings in open woodland, in low secondary growth and open cultivated land with bushes and thickets, and sometimes in open grasslands. In its wintering range, it is found in grasslands, scrub, pine forest and cultivated areas, up to 1,500 m.

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 3.6
Movement patterns: Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Its decline has probably been a result of a combination of habitat loss, high levels of pesticide use and trapping for the bird trade.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected in Japan, North Korea and Hong Kong. It occurs in some National Wildlife Protection Areas in central Honshu, Japan, including Asama (Gunma and Nagano prefectures), the North Alps (Toyama, Nagano and Gifu prefectures) and Katano Duck Pond (Ishikawa prefecture). Some of its breeding and staging grounds are also protected as prefecture protection areas, such as Nikko (Tochigi prefecture), Myoko-san (Niigata prefecture), Nojiri-ko (Nagano prefecture), Matsunaga-wan (Hiroshima prefecture) and Kakara-jima (Saga prefecture).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research the status of its breeding population and carry out surveys to establish its main wintering area. Coordinate a study of the decline and conservation requirements of migratory passerines in Asia. Ensure it is legally protected across its entire range. Study its habitat requirements during winter and make land management recommendations (D. Allen in litt. 2012). Assess the level of threat posed by nocturnal trapping during migration (D. Allen in litt. 2012).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Emberiza sulphurata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22720996A39912645. . Downloaded on 28 November 2015.
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