Plectrophenax nivalis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Calcariidae

Scientific Name: Plectrophenax nivalis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Snow Bunting
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Austria; Bahamas; Belarus; Belgium; Bermuda; Bulgaria; Canada; China; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Germany; Greenland; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Republic of; Latvia; Lithuania; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Canary Is. - Vagrant); Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Turks and Caicos Islands; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United States
Algeria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Greece; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Luxembourg; Malta; Mongolia; Montenegro; Morocco; Serbia; Turkey
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:43400000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population is estimated to number > c.40,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2004). The European population is estimated at 1,230,000-2,310,000 pairs, which equates to 2,470,000-4,630,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 20% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 12,350,000-23,150,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend Justification:  This species has undergone a large and statistically significant decrease over the last 40 years in North America (-63.6% decline over 40 years, equating to a -22.3% decline per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007). The European population trend is unknown (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species is found in treeless, uncultivated barren rocky terrain, usually near snow. It also uses sea cliffs and commonly nests near or even in human settlements. Outside the breeding season it occupies open fields, shingle beaches, saltmarshes, sand dunes, and stubble fields. In Greenland pair formation occurs by late May. It breeds from mid-May to July in Iceland, late May in Scotland and pair formation occurs in early June in Canada. It is monogamous and the nest is a thick cup of dry grass and moss, lined with finer grasses, fur and feathers. It is sited in a variety of places, often in a crevice or crag in some rocks, but will also use artificial sites such as buildings and nestboxes. Clutches are two to eight eggs. The diet is primarily seeds but in the breeding season it will take small invertebrates. The species is migratory (Rising 2016).
Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):3.9
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Declines in Europe of birds wintering in coastal areas of the southern North Sea since c. 1970 are attributed to huge embankment projects and intensified grazing, which have destroyed saltmarshes (the preferred foraging habitat of the species) (Rising 2016). The species is also likely threatened by future climate change (Virkkala et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. Since 1990 grazing around the southern North Sea has been greatly reduced and no further embankment projects are planned, which has allowed this species to begin to recover (Rising 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
To minimise the impacts of climate change large areas of continuous habitats should be preserved and protected in a connected reserve network (Virkkala et al. 2008).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Plectrophenax nivalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22721043A89345729. . Downloaded on 26 September 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided