Archived 2010-2011 topics: Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea): downlist to Least Concern?

Link to current BirdLife species factsheet for Blue Chaffinch

Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea is endemic to the Canary Islands (Spain), and comprises two subspecies: F. t. teydea on Tenerife and F. t. polatzeki on Gran Canaria. It is currently listed as Near Threatened under B and C criteria on the IUCN Red List, because when last assessed it was estimated to have a small and decreasing range (<500km2) and a moderately small population, which was thought to have declined but not to be severely fragmented or restricted to fewer than ten locations.

The two subspecies face quite different pressures and have different levels of threat. F. t. polatzeki is largely restricted to one area on Gran Canaria, and despite ongoing conservation projects, its very small population is still threatened by habitat loss, forest fires and fragmentation, making it one of the most endangered populations in the Canary Islands (Rodriguez & Moreno 2004).

On Tenerife, however, F. t. teydea is more numerous and widespread. Its distribution is closely linked to that of Pinus canariensis forest, whose recovery (through better management) has allowed the species to spread, increasing its Area of Occupancy by up to 32% (BirdLife International 2010). At species level, therefore, F. teydea is now considered very likely to have an increasing population (BirdLife International 2010).

Although an accurate total population estimate is still lacking, data collated for the 2010 EU Species Action Plan review confirm the increase in the species’s range on Tenerife, which strongly suggests that its overall population size has also increased. Notwithstanding the precarious state of the Gran Canaria subspecies and its need for ongoing conservation work, this suggests that the global status of the species ought to be revised to Least Concern. Comments on this proposal are invited.

BirdLife International (2004) Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.

BirdLife International (2010) Species Action Plan Implementation Report: Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea.

Rodriguez, F. and Moreno, A. (2004) Fringilla teydea polatzeki. In: Madroño, A., González, C. and Atienza, J. C., eds. (2004) Libro Rojo de las aves de España. Madrid: Dirección General de Conservación de la Naturaleza and SEO/BirdLife.

Tucker & Heath (1994) Birds in Europe: their conservation status. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.

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1 Response to Archived 2010-2011 topics: Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea): downlist to Least Concern?

  1. Andy Symes says:

    Ana Iñigo (SEO) has commented:

    The situation for Blue Chaffinch is delicate; most of the population of the species F. t. polatzeki is in a higher risk of extinction. We think that it’s can not possible to downlist the category for these species. We think that a revision of the status is urgent, because also the currently listed is a mistake. We can’t considerate both sub-species together, and in this case we should be cautious. Also for pigeons.
    You explain correctly the different situation for the two subspecies but I understand that the downlist proposal is for the species (globally).
    And more, after read the summary in I don’t understand that the species deserves to be downlisted. I thought that we haven’t enough information to downlist the ssp polatzeki.

    During the workshop in Madeira the experts discussed about the implementation measures and the situation of the species but I don’t think so have obtained an agreement to downlist this species. This species is only present in a isolated and unique forest in Gran Canaria. Any unpredictable accident can remove the species.
    As you know Pascual Calabuig is working from the government about it. I think that perhaps we have to attend to the final results.

    BirdLife response:
    Please note that we have explicitly and deliberately acknowledged the very different statuses of F. t. teydea and F. t. polatzeki in our proposal. We share your concerns for the highly threatened Gran Canaria population, and agree that SEO and the authorities should continue to treat this as a separate management unit from the Tenerife population. For the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, however, BirdLife assesses the status of the world’s c. 10,000 birds at the level of whole species. Any subspecific differences must therefore be flagged up at the national or regional scale.

    The proposed reassessment is for the species globally – the status of F.t.polatzeki as a separate unit is not being assessed except in the context to which contributes to the status of the species as a whole – in this particular case the Gran Canarian taxon accounts for such a small proportion of the global population of the species that the status of this population has little impact on the overall assessment. We do however recognise its significance as a highly threatened taxon worthy of a high level of conservation concern and attention, and will explicitly mention this in the species factsheet (note for example our detailed treatment of the highly threatened Cuban subspecies of Palm Crow) We do not believe that efforts to conserve this ecological unit would be affected by the change in status of the species as a whole (which would itself remain on Annex I of the Birds Directive, etc).

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