Italian Sparrow, Passer italiae, is a recently split species that is currently listed as Least Concern as it was not thought to approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion. This species has a moderately large range, occurring throughout Italy, with small breeding populations also found in Corsica (France), Crete (Greece), Switzerland and Slovenia (see BirdLife International 2015). It is potentially the most numerous bird in Italy (Summers-Smith 2017). The European Red List of Birds estimated its population to be 2,173,000-3,629,000 pairs, equivalent to 4,346,000-7,258,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015), while the Italian Red List estimated 10,000,000-20,000,000 individuals in the country (Peronace et al. 2012). Therefore, it would not approach the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criteria B, C or D.
However, the species has undergone a recent rapid decline in Italy (Peronace et al. 2012, BirdLife International 2015). The causes behind this decline are, as of yet, uncertain, although the similar P. domesticus and P. hispaniolensis have suffered declines as a result of changing agricultural practices, such as increased use of pesticides, which reduces the amount of available prey (see BirdLife International 2015). However, it has also been suggested that urban populations may be declining (Brichetti et al. 2008, Summers-Smith 2017), and so this is unlikely to be the sole cause of population declines in this species.
The only country within this species’s range where declines have been noted is Italy (BirdLife International 2015), where the rate of decline has been estimated at 30-40% between 2000 and 2012 (BirdLife International 2015), 47% between 2000 and 2010 (LIPU & Rete Rurale Nazionale 2011), 54.2% between 2000 and 2015 (E. de Carli in litt. 2017), and 50% in northern Italy between 1996 and 2006 (Brichetti et al. 2008). Combining and extrapolating the trend estimates from Italy and other countries produces an overall rate of decline between 36% and 51% over 3 generations (c. 18 years). Species declining at a rate of 30-49% over three generations qualify for listing as Vulnerable under Criterion A, while those declining at 50-79% over 3 generations qualify for listing as Endangered.
As the causes of declines in this species are uncertain, it may be conservative to assume that they may continue into the future. Therefore, it is proposed that this species be listed as at least Vulnerable under criteria A2bce+3bce+4bce.
We welcome any further comments or information regarding this proposed uplisting.
BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.
Brichetti, P.; Rubolini, D.; Galeotti, P.; Fasola, M. 2008. Recent declines in urban Italian Sparrow Passer (domesticus) italiae populations in northern Italy. Ibis 150: 177-181.
LIPU & Rete Rurale Nazionale 2011. Lo stato degli uccelli comuni in Italia. MIPAAF
Peronace, V.; Cecere, J. G.; Gustin, M.; Rondinini, C. 2012. Lista Rossa 2011 degli Uccelli Nidificanti in Italia. Avocetta 36: 11-58.
Summers-Smith, D. 2017. Italian Sparrow (Passer italiae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/60926 on 8 March 2017).