Archived 2019 topic: Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Cassin’s Finch

Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii) is found in montane coniferous forest of western Canada and U.S.A., with wintering populations occurring south into northern Mexico (although at lower elevations than during the breeding season) (Clement et al. 1993, Hahn 1996). Currently listed as Near Threatened under Criterion A (see BirdLife International 2018), the species is considered to have undergone moderately rapid declines based on survey data, such as the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The causes for such declines are not, however, fully understood, and in fact its preference for more open habitats suggests that selective, or small-scale, forest clearance should not have too much of a negative impact on the species (Hahn 1996). It has been suggested that climate change could be an important future threat though, as the forests where it occurs are predicted to become drier, with concomitant increases in fire frequency and potential increases in pest infestations (G. Butcher in litt. 2016).

However, more recent information from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (Sauer et al. 2017) shows that the population may now actually be stabilising, and the rate of population decline may not approach the threshold for Vulnerable any more. We have, therefore, reassessed the species here against all Red List Criteria.

Criterion A – Recent information from Sauer et al. (2017) only shows non-significant declines in this species, which would not approach the threshold for listing as Vulnerable. Using data from 2006 (three generations ago) to 2015 gives an annual decline of 0.56% (2.24% decline to 1.36% increase). Extrapolating these trends forwards would give an overall population reduction of 6.52% (23.80% reduction to 17.60% increase) over the past three generations. Population reductions have been occurring at this approximate rate for some time now (at least 5 years) and so the 5-year rule could not be used in this case to maintain its current listing. Therefore, the species would appear to no longer warrant listing as threatened under this criterion.

Criterion B – The species’s range is far too large to warrant listing as threatened under this criterion (Extent of Occurrence [breeding/resident] = 2,730,000 km2; Extent of Occurrence [non-breeding] = 3,600,000 km2).

Criterion C – Rosenberg et al. (2016) estimate the population size at 3,000,000 mature individuals, which is far too large to warrant listing as threatened under this criterion.

Criterion D – The species’s population size and range are far too large to warrant listing as threatened under this criterion.

Criterion E –To the best of our knowledge no quantitative analyses of extinction risk have been conducted for this species that could be used to apply this criterion. Therefore, we cannot assess the species against this criterion.

Therefore, it is proposed that Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii) be downlisted to Least Concern. We welcome any comments or further information.

Please note though that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of the species’s Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are about the proposed listing.

An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.


BirdLife International. 2018. Species factsheet: Haemorhous cassinii. Downloaded from on 12/09/2018.

Clement, P.; Harris, A.; Davis, J. 1993. Finches and sparrows: an identification guide. Christopher Helm, London.

Hahn, T. P. 1996. Cassin’s Finch Carpodacus cassinii. In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America No. 240, pp. 1-20. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and the American Ornithologists’ Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Rosenberg, K. V., Kennedy, J. A., Dettmers, R., Ford, R. P., Reynolds, D., Alexander, J. D., Beardmore, C. J., Blancher, P. J., Bogart, R. E., Butcher, G. S., Camfield, A. F., Couturier, A., Demarest, D. W., Easton, W. E., Giocomo, J. J., Keller, R. H., Mini, A. E., Panjabi, A. O., Pashley, D. N., Rich, T. D., Ruth, J. M., Stabins, H., Stanton, J. and Will., T. 2016. Partners in Flight Landbird Conservation Plan: 2016 Revision for Canada and Continental United States. Partners in Flight Science Committee.

Sauer, J. R.; Niven, D. K.; Hines, J. E.; Ziolkowski, Jr, D. J.; Pardieck, K. L.; Fallon, J. E.; Link, W. A. 2017. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966 – 2015. Version 2.07.2017 USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.

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1 Response to Archived 2019 topic: Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii): revise global status?

  1. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal
    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2019 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.
    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.
    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.
    The final 2019 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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