Endangered animal species

Conservation of two bird species endemic to the Mediterranean region threatened with extinction

Reed bunting © B.Vollot

In France, the moustached warbler is found only in the reedbeds of the Mediterranean region. Its reduced population and range explain why it is classified as endangered on the IUCN red list of nesting birds in metropolitan France.

The reed bunting is the only species of bunting that breeds in wetland habitats. In the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) Region, only the witherbyi sub-species, endemic to the Mediterranean region, has a sedentary nesting population. In the 2000s, the national population of the witherbyi subspecies was estimated at 300-1000 pairs, including a few dozen in Camargue. The decline of the species in Spain led to its recent classification as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

A 40-hectare reedbed in the Domaine de Rousty, Camargue Regional Nature Park (Bouches-du-Rhône) is home to moustached warblers, reed buntings and other passerine birds. The latest inventories define this reedbed as an important habitat for key species: a migratory staging area, nesting and/or wintering site for over 28 species … and a lack of knowledge of the bird populations is detrimental to their conservation. In addition, the uses to which the site, and reedbeds in general, are put, require long-term monitoring to ensure that action is taken if the structure or dynamic of the populations changes. Grazing and hydraulic management have a direct impact on the habitats and thus on the avifauna.

For this reason, the establishment of a bird banding station in the Domaine by the Camargue Regional Nature Park seems an ideal way of meeting the need to gain a better understanding of how to conserve these species. Bird banding makes it possible to obtain information on avifauna that is difficult to collect using other methods. The collection and analysis of this data will guide long-term management of the area.

A campaign will also be launched to raise public awareness, and bird banding training, leading to certification, will be organized.


A former pumping station has been rehabilited to become a banding station. An information panel about it has been installed and scientific/learning material has been bought.

From end September to beginning October 2018, a scientific banding program in the region allowed to band or control 102 moustached warblers as well as 21 reed buntings, among a total of 775 captured birds.

A level 1&2 bander certifying course will be set up and will begin in Spring 2020. A short film (in French) has been realized by students from the Arles’ University Institute of Technology to introduce the station and instructional videos to explain the banding technics as course materials. An internet page introducing the project will be soon created.

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