Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin and sustainable vineyards

Working with Nature-friendly farmers in the sherry vineyards of Trebujena to give ´Alzacola´s and other species a home amongst the vines.

Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin © Inglorious Bustards

Current species status

The Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin (Erythropygia galactotes) is a passerine declared Endangered in Spain (López Iborra, 2004). Its last populations are associated with agricultural ecosystems of high ecological value such as the traditional vineyards of Trebujena (Cádiz), within the IBA 259. 

Main threats

Habitat loss and degradation (land transformation, intensification, abandonment of farming, etc) are the most prominent threats to the species.

Project outline

According to Sociedad Española de Ornitología (SEO/Birdlife), traditional vineyards function as a key refuge for the Rufous-tailed Bush Robin at the regional level, and are home to one of the most numerous (and healthy) populations in Andalusia and the Iberian Peninsula.

The traditional dry farmed vineyard in Doñana is the key to the preservation of the local population of this species. The strong association with the Rufous-tailed Bush Robin makes the vineyards an agrosystem of high environmental value, which is an additional reason for the local, regional, and national authorities to be actively involved in its preservation.

The Trebujena vineyards constitutes a unique space in landscape, biological, ethnographic and environmental richness, since many viticulturists still manage the vineyards in a traditional way. Compared to the intensive agriculture model that other municipalities have adopted, Trebujena constitutes an “island” with thousands of untransformed hectares of marsh and equipped with trails, tracks and paths that run through the almost 1,000 hectares of vineyards.  Here the highest concentration of Rufous-tailed Bush Robin nests of the Iberian Peninsula occurs. Each year approximately 129 pairs are recorded.

Trebujena is an excellent land that produces wines from the Marco de Jerez region, and its wines have the Xeres-Sherry Designation of Origin.

This project aims to improve the conservation status of the Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin by:

  • Installing fencing to prevent access to predators, especially cats
  • Planting hedges of native vegetation to diversify habitat
  • Encouraging Biological treatment of pests
  • Encouraging manual tillage and installation of insect hotels
  • Supporting the annual census of Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin
  • Supporting organic winegrowers who manage land for the benefit of Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin to commercialise their wine.

Recovery Curve status  – R3/S1

This project sits between R2/R3 (deployment of solutions) and S1 sustainable management.

We believe currently the project is closer to S1 as solutions are being adopted across the species’ range but too early to demonstrate success against population/range targets.

We will continue to support vineyards and farmers taking the right actions at the right scale and promote their products where they can be linked directly to benefit the Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin, other species and the wider farmed environment.

Project Partners

Salarte – Fondo para la Custodía y Recuperación de la Marisma Salinera

Martinete Consultoría Ambiental y Ecoturismo

If you would like to support this project you can donate here.


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