Archived 2017 topics: Iberian (Southern) Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis): uplist to Vulnerable?

Prior to del Hoyo and Collar (2016), the Iberian (Southern) Grey Shrike, Lanius meridionalis, was treated by BirdLife as a subspecies of L. excubitor, and by Handbook of the Birds of the World as a separate species that included Iberian, North Africa, Middle Eastern and Asian populations (del Hoyo et al. 2008). The newly recognised species is restricted to the Iberian Peninsula and southern France. Data regarding this species was collected as part of the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015), with population figures estimated at 372,150-656,150 pairs, or 744,300-1,312,300 mature individuals. Therefore, given its reasonably large range and such high population size estimates, it would not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under criteria B, C or D.

This species may, however, be under threat from several factors. Intensification of agriculture means that its habitat and prey availability are declining (Tucker and Heath 1994). At the same time, a reduction of certain types of agriculture can also have negative impacts on the species, with the removal of sheep potentially leading to the invasion of shrub, and thus creating unsuitable habitat for this species (Tucker and Heath 1994). Development of industry as well as road building may impact upon this species too; and disturbance from humans, cars and dogs can potentially increase predation risk by attracting the attention of nest-predators such as corvids (Tucker and Heath 1994). Such threats mean this species has undergone and likely continues to undergo rapid population declines (BirdLife International 2015).

The majority of the population is found in Spain, where it underwent a decline of 57% between 1998 and 2012. The appropriate period of time to investigate rate of decline is 3 generations or 10 years (whichever is the longer) and in this species this would be 3 generations, which is currently estimated at c. 12 years. Combining population size and trend estimates from across its range indicates that the species has undergone a decline of between 49% and 52% over 3 generations. Therefore, the rate of decline for this species falls at the borderline of and Vulnerable (30-49% decline) and Endangered (50-79% decline). For now, it is proposed that this species be listed as Vulnerable under criteria A2abc+3bc+4abc. Should its rate of decline accelerate in future, then it could easily qualify for further uplisting.

Any comments or further information would be welcomed.



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

del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Christie, D. (2008) Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 13: Penduline-tits to Shrikes. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Tucker, G. M.; Heath, M. F. 1994. Birds in Europe: their conservation status. BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation series no. 3). Cambridge, U.K.

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5 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: Iberian (Southern) Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis): uplist to Vulnerable?

  1. David Giralt says:

    I add here some data about recent trend estimations in Catalonia (NE Spain) that could be useful for you:

    1) According to Anton et al., 2013 (you can find the paper here:
    The trend for the period 2002-2012 (10 years) was between -22% and -53% (confidence intervals). The authors classified Lanius meridionalis as endangered at the regional level of Catalonia given that they considered the most negative population trend (thus -53%).

    2) According to the last update of birds trends in Catalonia (avaliable in catalan at
    The mean annual trend for the period 2002-2016 (14 years) was -7%. If we apply this mean to a 12 years period (=3 generations for Lanius meridionalis), it means that the species has undergone a -58% decline in 12 years. So the last update clearly reveals that the species has to be considererd endangered, at least at the regional level of Catalonia.

    For more detailed information I suggest you to contact Marc Anton or Sergi Herrando from Catalan Institute of Ornithology.

    Thank you

  2. José María Fernández-García says:

    The Southern Grey Shrike has gone extinct in the Basque Country (Spain), at the northern edge of its Iberian distribution, in the last decade. In the 80’s it still mantained a breeding and well stablished population, but no record is available since 2006, despite intensive field efforts. In neighbouring regions, like Rioja, holding former bigger/core populations, the species is present but undergoing a sharp decline, and has dissappeared locally, as shown by standardised monitoring in the framework of the SACRE program (SEO/BirdLife).
    Supporting references are the Atlas of Breeding Birds of the Basque Country, which mapped the distribution of bird species for the period 1982-1984, and the recent paper by J. A. Gainzarain (in Spanish).

  3. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Juan Carlos del Moral (Coordinator of Bird Monitoring at SEO/BirdLife in Spain) has directed us to the data presented on page 8 of the latest (2016) issue of SEO/BirdLife’s annual report on the work of its national bird monitoring schemes and working groups (

    The graph presented there indicates that the population of this species has declined by c. 60% in Spain between 1998 and 2016. However, much of that decline took place before 2010, since when the species’ population has fluctuated but remained broadly stable. Over the last 12 years (2005-2016), representing three generations, the graph suggests a decline from c. 70% of 1998 levels to c. 40% of 1998 levels, which equates to a decline of c. 43% over the last three generations.

    As Spain holds c. 95% of the global population, the Spanish trend effectively describes the global trend. An overall decline of c. 43% over the last three generations supports the species being listed as Vulnerable under Criterion A (declines of 30-49% over three generations).

  4. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    A minor edit was made to this post was made on 13/07/2017.

  5. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to list:

    Iberian Grey Shrike as Vulnerable under criterion A2abc+3bc+4abc.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 4 August, 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 the initial proposal.

    The final 2017 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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