Scientific Journal of the BirdLife Hungary

A Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület tudományos folyóirata

Ornis Hungarica. vol.30(1). (2022) p.1-20.

The status of the European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) in Hungary: a review
Tibor Csörgő, József Gyurácz, Péter Lovászi, Zsolt Karcza, Tibor Szép & Andrea Harnos

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In 2021, the European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) became the ‘Bird of The Year’ in Hungary, which makes it very timely to summarise our knowledge about the status of the species in the country and to emphasise conservation priorities. 

In Hungary, the species is a common, widespread breeder of dry roadside grass strips, abandoned ploughlands, bushy slopes and vineyards. It is most likely in the arid habitats between the Danube and Tisza and east of the Tisza. The largest populations also breed in these regions. The Hungarian population was estimated at 195,000–210,000 pairs between 2014 and 2018. The breeding population halved between 1999 and 2018, though it was stable until 2004. The breeding period begins from late March to early April and lasts until the end of July. First males arrive in February, and spring migration peaks in early March. Autumn migration peaks in late September. Few may overwinter. The number of birds ringed in Hungary since 1951 is 13,484, of which 1,401 were juvenile. Three birds ringed in Hungary were found abroad (Italy 2, Greece 1), and two specimens marked abroad (Croatia, Italy) were found in Hungary. The oldest bird was recaptured 1679 days after its ringing day in Hungary. The average body mass of juveniles increased significantly for both sexes by an average of 0.9 grams over 22 years. In the case of all age and sex groups, the average body mass increased during the autumn season. The average wing length of adults also increased during the autumn. The arrival time of either sex during spring migration did not change significantly between 1999 and 2020. In the case of all age and sex groups, the arrival time shifted later in autumn migration. The European Stonechat belongs to the red list category Near Threatened in Hungary.