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Acrocephalus melanopogon

warning Critically Endangered
CR (D1)

Contributed: Zev Labinger, Avner Rinot, Yoav Perlman, Yosef Kiat, Nadav Israeli, Itay Shimshon, Noam Weiss, Ezra Hadad

The Moustached Warbler is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) because of the extremely small size of its breeding populations, estimated at less than 50 adult birds. The species probably does not breed in Israel every year. In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002) it was also classified as critically endangered (CR). The stability in its status reflects a continuous declining trend in its population and range.
CR Current Regional Assessment | CR Previous Regional Assessment | LC World Assessment

Habitats Wetland Thickets
Presence In Israel Summer Breeder, Resident
Nesting In Israel Breeder
Migration Types Short Range / Partial
Zoography Zones Mediterranean
Landscape Formations 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 Moustached Warbler is an extremely rare breeder in northern and central Israel. There is no information regarding whether it is a resident or a summer breeder. It is a relatively common winter visitor and passage migrant. Until the 1960s, the Moustached Warbler was a relatively common nesting species in the Hula, Bet She’an and Jezreel valleys as well as on the northern coastal plain. As a result of habitat modification and destruction, the breeding population has decreased dramatically and is now on the verge of extinction. In the 1980s, only 10-20 pairs bred in the Hula, northern Sea of Galilee and the Bet She’an Valley (Shirihai 1996). A lone nest was found in the Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant (Shafdan) near Rishon LeTsiyon in 1989, and a number of pairs nested in the same area (today an amusement park lake) in 2013. According to data from Moustached Warbler ringing in the Hula Valley, it is possible the species nests there sporadically.

Water bodies in Israel’s Mediterranean and steppe regions, in varied riparian thickets and reed stands. During migration and in winter it can also be seen in agricultural fields and in dense vegetation far from water.

The major threat facing the Moustached Warbler is habitat modification and destruction – drainage, modification of water bodies, particularly marshes and streams. Fishponds and reservoirs usually fail to serve as adequate alternatives for the natural habitats because of the uniformity and scantiness of their riparian vegetation.

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

The Moustached Warbler breeding population in Israel is relictual and very fragmented due to the dramatic reduction of suitable habitats. The population that formerly bred in northern Israel was at the southern limit of the species range in the Western Palearctic. Small populations may breed in Syria and Lebanon (Cramp & Simons 1992, BirdLife 2017), but the chances of individuals from these populations immigrating to Israel (rescue effect) are negligible.

In order to rehabilitate the Moustached Warbler population in Israel it is necessary to expand the availability of potential habitats through management actions, aiming at extending riparian vegetation in areas such as the Hula, Bet-Tsayda and Acre valleys.

  • 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: Zev Labinger, Avner Rinot, Yoav Perlman, Yosef Kiat, Nadav Israeli, Itay Shimshon, Noam Weiss, Ezra Hadad

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

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% of protected sites

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