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Acrocephalus arundinaceus

warning Critically Endangered
CR (D1)

Contributed: Yoav Perlman, Yosef Kiat, Lior Kislev

The Great Reed-warbler is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) due to the extremely small size of its breeding population, which is estimated at a few pairs at the most (and possibly does not breed in Israel every year). In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was classified as Critically Endangered (CR).
CR Current Regional Assessment | CR Previous Regional Assessment | LC World Assessment

Habitats Wetland Thickets
Presence In Israel Summer Breeder, Migrant
Nesting In Israel Breeder
Migration Types Long Range
Zoography Zones Mediterranean
Landscape Formations Swamps, Wetland Thickets, Wetlands
Vegetation Formations Wetland Thickets
Vegetation Densities High
Nest Locations Wetland Thickets
Diet Types Invertebrate
Foraging Grounds Trees and Shrubs
Body Sizes Small (up to 500g)
Threat Factors Wetland Drainage & Pollution

The Great Reed-warbler is an extremely rare breeder in the Hula Valley, a common passage migrant throughout Israel and a rare winter visitor in the Bet She’an Valley and the northern Dead Sea. Before the Hula Lake was drained, it was a common breeder there, as well as on the northern Coastal Plain and in the Bet She’an Valley. The breeding population decreased significantly after the marshes were drained and wetlands were contaminated and destroyed (during the 1950s and the 1960s). In the 1980s, a few pairs nested in the Hula Valley, northern Sea of Galilee and probably in the Bet She’an Valley (Paz 1986, Shirihai 1996). In recent years, however, there is evidence of nesting only from the Hula Valley, which is apparently sporadic and not annual.

Water bodies in Israel’s Mediterranean and steppe regions, with dense riparian vegetation and extensive reed beds. During migration, the Great Reed-warbler can also be seen in agricultural fields and vegetation thickets far from water.

Habitat modification – drainage and drying of wetlands in northern Israel, particularly the Hula Marshes, reduced the number of habitats occupied by the Great Reed-warbler, and possibly disturbed the competitive equilibrium with the more successful resident Clamorous Reed-warbler.

No specific conservation measures have been taken for this species to date.

The Great Reed-warbler once nested in marshes and thickets in the Northern Valleys. Its population declined drastically during the second half of the 20th century because of habitat destruction. The current breeding population is relictual, on the verge of extinction. The population that nested in northern Israel was the southern limit of the species range. There may be small populations still breeding in northern Jordan, Syria and Lebanon (Cramp & Simons 1992, BirdLife 2017) but no updated information is available.

Habitat rehabilitation and restoration – in order to improve the status of the Great Reed-warbler in Israel there is need for management of suitable breeding areas, such as the Hula, Bet Tsayda and Bet She’an valleys. Developing wetlands surrounded by extensive vegetation thickets could encourage re-establishment of the species in these areas.

Israel is one of the areas in the Great Reed-warbler’s range where there is an overlap with the closely related resident species Clamorous Reed-warbler. Both species apparently compete for the same resources, which may affect the survival and reproductive ability of the Great Reed-warbler.

  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.
  • Cramp, S and Simmons, R.G. 1992. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 6. Oxford University Press
  • Shirihai, H., 1996. The Birds of Israel. Academic Press, London.
  • Symes, A. 2013. Species generation lengths. Unpublished, BirdLife International.
  • Species page at Birdlife International
Contributed: Yoav Perlman, Yosef Kiat, Lior Kislev

Current Occupancy Map

Distribution maps

The maps presented here provide visual information on the distribution of species in Israel in the past and present, and the changes in occupancy and nesting density during the comparison period. For further reading

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values as calculated from observation records and expert opinions.

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Breeding density values are based mainly on the book Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Occupancy difference 1990-2020

A map that expresses differences in the breeding distribution between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative value - species previously present but is currently absent, positive value - species has not been recorded previously and is currently present, zero - no change in occupancy.

Relative abundance difference 1990-2020

A map that reflects the changes in the relative abundance of the species between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative values - decline in abundance, positive values - increase in abundance, zero - no change in abundance.

Red number

IUCN category

() districts
% of protected sites

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