Archived 2020 topic: Iberian Green Woodpecker (Picus sharpei) – reclassify from Near Threatened to Least Concern

Please note: This discussion topic is one of a set about species that are endemic or nearly endemic to the European Union (EU), and whose status in the EU therefore effectively determines their global status. To ensure consistency between the 2020 global and EU Red List assessments of these species, this set of topics is being fast-tracked through BirdLife’s Globally Threatened Bird Forums to inform decisions on the EU (and global) status of relevant species, which must be finalised and communicated to the European Commission by mid-April 2020. Topics on other species will be posted on the Forums shortly, for discussion later in the spring, as per usual. The results of the 2020 global Red List update for birds will be published by IUCN and BirdLife in early December.

Iberian Green Woodpecker Picus sharpei is endemic to Spain, Portugal, the Pyrenees and extreme SW France. It was only elevated to full species status relatively recently, having previously been considered conspecific with Eurasian Green Woodpecker P. viridis (del Hoyo & Collar 2014).

Globally, it has a very large range (>500,000 km2), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criteria (B and D2). Its population size is also very large (>500,000 mature individuals; BirdLife International 2015), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criteria (C and D1). Therefore, the only potentially relevant IUCN Red List Criterion is A, which relates to reductions in population size. When last assessed, the species’s population was estimated to be declining by >25% over three generations, at a rate approaching the threshold for Vulnerable (>30%) under Criterion A. Hence, the species is currently listed as Near Threatened under Criterion A2abc+3bc+4abc (past, future and present declines).

In late 2019, all 28 EU Member States were obliged to complete their second 6-yearly report to the European Commission (EC) under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive, including their latest information on the sizes and trends of the populations and ranges of all naturally occurring wild bird species. Under an EC contract to evaluate the EU population status of each species, BirdLife has now analysed these new data, which indicate that this species’s population is no longer declining significantly. Specifically, the latest trend data from Spain (which holds around 93% of the global population) suggest that it declined only very slightly during 2008-2018, although it remains moderately depleted after declining more steeply during 1998-2008 (SEO/BirdLife 2019). Ten years is the relevant time period over which to evaluate this species’s trend, whose generation length is now estimated to be 2.7 years (Bird et al. 2020).

Overall, this species’s global population has not declined significantly over the last decade. It therefore no longer approaches the threshold for listing under Criterion A, and should be reclassified from Near Threatened to Least Concern.

Relevant comments and information on this fast-track topic are welcome by 8 April 2020, please.

Please note that this forum topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, but rather a discussion of the species’s Red List status. Therefore, please ensure your comments are relevant to the species’s Red List status and the information requested. By submitting a comment, you confirm that you agree to the BirdLife Forums’ Comment Policy.


Bird, J.P., Martin, R., Akçakaya, H.R., Gilroy, J., Burfield, I.J., Garnett, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Şekercioğlu, Ç.H. & Butchart, S.H. (2020). Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology.

BirdLife International (2015) European Red List of Birds: Iberian Green Woodpecker Picus sharpei.

del Hoyo, J. & Collar, N. J. (2014) HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

SEO/BirdLife (2019) Programas de seguimiento y grupos de trabajo de SEO/BirdLife 2018. SEO/BirdLife: Madrid.

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5 Responses to Archived 2020 topic: Iberian Green Woodpecker (Picus sharpei) – reclassify from Near Threatened to Least Concern

  1. Georges OLIOSO says:

    In France, Picus sharpei is present in a narrow strip noth of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean coast. It is an altitudinal species on the west of the Pyrenees, but it is present from sea level to trees limits in the east. In the Languedoc area, there is a narrow area of hybridation with Picus viridis.

  2. Georges OLIOSO says:

    In Languedoc (Mediterranean France), the species shows a little declin and it is not a common species.

  3. Nicolás López Jiménez says:

    In Spain, the latest trend data from Spain (which holds around 93% of the global population) suggest that it declined during 1998-2019: -28,3%.
    Average year-on-year evolution (1998-2019): -1.6

    These are the most exact data of the publication: SEO/BirdLife (2019), incorporating the 2019 population trend data.

  4. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion over the past 10 days. We realise that the window for consultation was short (and is now closed), and greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting, especially during this unprecedented time globally. The volume and variety of responses received on this (and other) species means that it will take us several more days to digest, analyse and interpret everything. We will however do so as quickly as possible, posting our considered conclusions on this species’s status on this page in a final contribution by mid-April.

    Thank you once again, and Happy Easter.

    BirdLife Red List Team

  5. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Following careful review and consideration of the existing available information, as well as the new information and valuable views shared through the consultation above, we have now reached a decision on the status of this species for both the 2020 global Red List and the EU Red List of birds. Our conclusion is that this species should be classified as Least Concern – representing a reclassification from its current status of Near Threatened, owing to its slower rate of decline.

    Many thanks once again to everyone who contributed to the discussion above and helped to inform this outcome. The 2020 Red List update for birds including this assessment will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December.

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