Is Rustic Bunting also in trouble now?

25 Apr 2016 - 22:28 -- Chris Sharpe

HBW Alive has recently drawn attention to the alarming collapse of the Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola) population, thought to have numbered in the hundreds of millions in the 1980s, but since having suffered a population crash of up to 95% due to excessive trapping at migration and wintering sites#R. It now appears that the Rustic Bunting (E. rustica) population is also beginning to show a similar rapid, widespread decline. A 30–50% drop in the European population over the past decade triggered regional listing as Vulnerable in 2015#R. However, Europe accounts for just 20% of its global range so, in the absence of data from Asian Russia, the European figures alone did not change its global threat category. However, a newly-published analysis of population trends on the Scandinavian breeding grounds combined with ringing captures at Japanese and Chinese migration stop-over sites#R suggests a 75–87% decline in global population size over the last 30 years (a decrease of a similar order to that of the Yellow-breasted Bunting), with a 32–91% decline during 2005–2014#R. There is further cause for apprehension since the Rustic Bunting shares the East Asian flyway migration route with the rapidly declining (and now globally Endangered) Yellow-breasted Bunting and uses similar wintering areas; it may likewise be vulnerable to large-scale trapping in China. These circumstances together suggest that the Rustic Bunting too should now be the subject of serious conservation concern.

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Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica)

Taxonomy:

Emberiza rustica

Pallas, 1776, Dauria = Transbaikalia.

Sometimes placed in genus Schoeniclus or, in the past, in Ocyris. Geographical variation weakly defined; species sometimes treated as...

Descriptive notes: 13–14·5 cm; 15·5–24·3 g. Medium-sized bunting with indication of crest (erectile), and longish bill with straight culmen. Male nominate race breeding has black crown with distinct white spot on rear...
figure, drawing, illustration of Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica)

Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola)

Taxonomy:

Emberiza aureola

Pallas, 1773, Irtysh River, south-central Siberia, Russia.

Sometimes placed in genus Schoeniclus or, in the past, in Ocyris. Two subspecies recognized.

Descriptive notes: 14–15·5 cm; 14–33 g. Medium-sized bunting, slightly larger than E. rutila, with longish bill; distinctive in most plumages. Male nominate race breeding has lower forehead, chin and upper throat back to ear-coverts...
figure, drawing, illustration of Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola)