Emberiza rustica 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Emberizidae

Scientific Name: Emberiza rustica Pallas, 1776
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Rustic 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: Vulnerable A2abcd+3bcd+4abcd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Virkkala, R.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Symes, A.
This species has been uplisted to Vulnerable as recent evidence suggests that the global population is undergoing rapid declines. Possible factors include increased logging in the breeding range, and large-scale trapping together with agricultural intensification in the non-breeding range.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This bunting breeds across northern latitudes of the Palaearctic from Norway in the west to Kamchatka (Russia) in the east. It is a full migrant, wintering in central and eastern Asia (primarily from eastern China to Japan).
Countries occurrence:
China; Estonia; Finland; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Japan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Latvia; Mongolia; Norway; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Sweden
Afghanistan; Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Canada; Croatia; Denmark; Egypt; France; Germany; Greece; Hong Kong; Iceland; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Malta; Montenegro; Nepal; Netherlands; Oman; Poland; Portugal; Saudi Arabia; Serbia; Slovenia; Spain; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:4870000
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 European population is estimated at 681,000-831,000 pairs, which equates to 1,360,000-1,660,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.20% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 6,800,000-8,300,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend Justification:  

Data collated from across Europe for the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015) indicate that the species has declined significantly in recent years, and that this decline is ongoing. A combination of official data reported by 27 EU Member States to the European Commission under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive and comparable data from other European countries, provided by BirdLife Partners and other leading national ornithologists, suggests that the European breeding population has declined overall by 30–49% over the last three generations (10.8 years, based on a generation length estimated by BirdLife to be 3.6 years). This corresponds well with the declining trend reported by PECBMS (the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme), and with the decline across Scandinavia reported by Dale & Hansen (2013). Consequently, the species is now classified as Vulnerable at European level (BirdLife International 2015).

However, only around 20% of the species’ global breeding range occurs in Europe, so globally its status depends on trends in Asian Russia, especially in Siberia. The population in European Russia has declined by >30% since 2000 and by >50% since 1980 (BirdLife International 2015), so at least some decline east of the Urals also seems likely. Furthermore, the species has a similar migration route and wintering areas to the globally Endangered and rapidly declining Yellow-breasted Bunting E. aureola, and may also be trapped in China (Kamp et al. 2015). Edenius et al. (2016) subsequently compiled population data across its breeding and wintering ranges. The analysis revealed a 75–87% decline in overall population size over the past 30 years and a 32–91% decline over the past 10 years. The species is therefore suspected to be undergoing an ongoing global decline of at least 30-49% in three generations.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:6000000-8999999Continuing 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 breeds in swampy lowland spruce (Picea) or pine (Pinus) forest with some birches (Betula), willows (Salix) or other deciduous trees. It also uses scrub along riverbanks and around Sphagnum bogs. In flooded pine forests it is frequently found where pines stunted and dead trees are covered with moss. Undergrowth is usually present, usually consisting of horsetail (Equisetum) and bushes such as Rubus (Copete and Garcia 2016). It may benefit from the construction of dams by beavers (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997, Dale and Hansen 2013, Copete and Garcia 2016). The breeding season starts in May or early June. The nest is usually placed on the ground often near water, among grassy vegetation. Occasionally it is built in a low tree. The clutch, usually four to six eggs, is incubated by both the male and female. The chicks hatch after 11–13 days. They are fed by both parents and leave the nest after 7–10 days. Then they are fed by the parents for another 15 days before they are able to fly. During the breeding season it mostly feeds on seeds and a wide variety of invertebrate species. The species is migratory, wintering mainly in Japan, Korea and eastern China with a small wintering population in southern Kazakhstan and north-west China (Copete and Garcia 2016).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):3.6
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The numbers of this species have declined in the Scandinavian part of its range since 1980. This decline is associated with forest logging and draining of swamps leading to habitat degradation or even destruction. In northern Finland, forest management has led to forest fragmentation resulting in declines in density (Copete and Garcia 2016). However the habitat of the species in Norway where it has also declined has remained rather unchanged (Dale and Hansen 2013). It is suggested that habitat destruction and hunting and trapping, taking place in the east Asian wintering grounds, may be the cause of the species's decline in Norway. Across the global range, agricultural intensification in the wintering range and intensified levels of disturbance, including logging and fire, in the breeding range could be important drivers of the range-wide population decline, and persecution could also contribute (Edenius et al. 2016).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation and research actions underway
There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within its European range.

Conservation and research actions proposed
Conduct research into the causes of the species decline in its breeding areas and in particular its non-breeding areas.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
3. Shrubland -> 3.3. Shrubland - Boreal
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
3. Shrubland -> 3.3. Shrubland - Boreal
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
suitability:Suitable season:passage major importance:No

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.1. Increase in fire frequency/intensity
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats

Bibliography [top]

BirdLife International. 2004. Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Copete, J.L., Garcia, E.F.J. and Sharpe, C.J. 2016. Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Dale, S. and Hansen, K. 2013. Population decline in the Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica in Norway. Ornis Fennica 90: 193-202.

EDENIUS, L., CHOI, C.-Y., HEIM, W., JAAKKONEN, T., DE JONG, A., OZAKI, K. and ROBERGE, J.-M. 2016. The next common and widespread bunting to go? Global population decline in the Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica. Bird Conservation International doi: 10.1017/S0959270916000046: 1-10.

Hagemeijer, E.J.M. and Blair, M.J. 1997. The EBCC atlas of European breeding birds: their distribution and abundance. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

Kamp, J., Oppel, S., Ananin, A. A., Durnev, Y. A., Gashev, S. N., Hölzel, N. 2015. Global population collapse in a superabundant migratory bird and illegal trapping in Chin. Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12537.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Emberiza rustica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22720960A89641304. . Downloaded on 24 January 2018.
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