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IUCN Red List Status

The status of birds was assessed at two regional levels: geographical Europe, and the EU 27. At the European regional level, 13% of bird species (67 species) are threatened, with 2% (10 species) Critically Endangered, 3% (18 species) Endangered, and 7% (39 species) Vulnerable. A further 6% (32 species) are considered Near Threatened. Within the EU 27, 18% of bird species (82 species) are threatened, with 2% (11 species) Critically Endangered, 4% (16 species) Endangered, and 12% (55 species) Vulnerable, and a further 6% (26 species) are Near Threatened.

By comparison, 59% of freshwater molluscs, 40% of freshwater fishes, 23% of amphibians, 20% of reptiles, 17% of mammals, 16% of dragonflies, 9% of butterflies and 8% of aquatic plants are threatened (IUCN 2011). Additional European Red Lists assessing only a selection of species showed that 22% of terrestrial molluscs, 16% of crop wild relatives, 15% of saproxylic beetles and 2% of medicinal plants are also threatened (IUCN 2011, Allen et al. 2014).

Two species are globally Extinct (Canarian Oystercatcher, Haematopus meadewaldoi, and Great Auk, Pinguinus impennis) and four are Regionally Extinct at the European level: Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita), African Darter (Anhinga rufa), Caspian Plover (Charadrius asiaticus) and Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana). Of these, African Darter, Caspian Plover and Desert Warbler are listed as Least Concern globally and Northern Bald Ibis is globally Critically Endangered. Asian Houbara (Chlamydotis macqueenii), Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) and Common Buttonquail (Turnix sylvaticus) are considered as Critically Endangered and Possibly Extinct at the European level.

IUCN Red List Categories

No. species Europe

No. species EU27

Extinct (EX)



Regionally Extinct (RE)



Critically Endangered (CR)



Endangered (EN)



Vulnerable (VU)



Near Threatened (NT)



Least Concern (LC)



Total number of species assessed



There are 69 bird families occurring in Europe and there are considerable differences among them in both species numbers and threatened status. A small number of families have all their species classified as threatened: Alcedinidae (kingfishers, 3 species), Oceanitidae (storm-petrel, 1 species), Turnicidae (buttonquail, 1 species) while others (e.g. Corvidae, crows and jays, 11 species; Paridae, tits, 9 species; Sylvidae, warblers, 46 species) do not presently have any of their species as Threatened. Other families with a high proportion of their species classified as threatened are the Gaviidae (loons or divers, 4 species), Haematopididae (oystercatchers, 2 species), Otididae (bustards, 4 species), Pteroclidae (sandgrouse, 3 species) and Procellaridae (petrels and shearwaters).

A detailed analysis of the results according to the habitat associations of European bird species (Tucker & Evans 1997, BirdLife International 2004a) shows some interesting conclusions. Birds associated with marine habitats have a relatively high proportion of threatened species (20%). This highlights the impact that some known pressures pose to these birds; namely predation and disturbance at colonies, fisheries bycatch and marine pollution. There is much variation between families associated with terrestrial ecosystems. Birds associated with grasslands and agricultural habitats (23%) and with upland moorland habitats (18%) have the highest proportion of threatened species, while birds associated with forests have the lowest (3%).