Alpine Accentor

Prunella collaris (Scopoli, 1769)

Accentor collaris (Scopoli): Reiser, 1894: 57; Accentor alpinus Bechstein: Klain, 1909: 5.

Order Passeriformes

Family Prunellidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU [A3 c], BDA-III; International: BeC-II.

General distribution. A Paleomontane species inhabiting the mountains in the Southern Palearctic, including the highest mountain massifs of Europe (mainly the Alps, the Carpatians, the Pyrenees). The subspecies Prunella collaris subalpina is endemic for the Balkan peninsula.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A resident and wandering species. The major part of the population inhabits the mountains Rila and Pirin and also the Central Balkan range, mosaically the Western Rhodopes, where its numbers are small, and the Western Balkan range and Vitosha. In the breeding period it inhabits a high mountainous territory of 100-110 thousand ha. The numbers at a density of 1 pairs /25-60 ha are 2 300 3 100 breeding pairs [1; 2; 3; 4; 5]. At the lowest altitude, but rarely under 1 500 m, it has been found breeding in the Central Balkans National Park, on peak Cherven, near the town of Teteven [2; 5; 6; 7; 8].

Habitats. Rock massifs, rocky and stony places in high-mountainous meadows and shrubs of dwarf mountain pine and the Siberian juniper over the upper border of the forest to the highest ridges and peaks.

Biology. Courting behaviour has been registered on 17 March at the earliest [8]. It makes its nests under stones and in rock niches and cracks. It has two clutches (2-6 eggs) from May to the beginning of August; the female bird incubates for 15 days [9; 10; 11]. The food consists of insects and their larvae, small worms, small spiders and snails, seeds [12]. The breeding territory occupies an area of 10-25 ha [2; 11; Spiridonov, unpublished information]. In the winter it wanders in the valleys, near roads and human settlements, sometimes in flocks of 20-40 individuals. Probably some birds stay in the snowless regions in the mountains. It returns to the breeding regions in March-April [10; 11; 12].

Similar species. The Dunnock (Prunella modularis).

Negative factors. The succession of shrub and woody vegetation on 30-40% of the habitats of the species. The building of tourist and winter sports facilities, climbing rock walls. Poisons on the dumping grounds during the winter, persecution by wandering cats.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Two thirds of the breeding population inhabits 3 National Parks and 3 Natural Parks.

Conservation measures needed. Declaration of the Western Balkan range a Natural Park, declaration of Protected Territories and Protected Zones in the Western Rhodopes and enlargement of the Pirin National Park. Restriction of the invasion of the Siberian juniper into important habitats of the species and other species and associations. Discontinuation of building in the high-mountainous zone in the country.

References. 1. Iankov, in press; 2. Spiridonov et al., 1987. 3. Spiridonov, 1999a. 4. Spiridonov, 1999b. 5. Spiridonov, 2000. 6. Spiridonov, 1984. 7. Spiridonov, Mileva, 1988. 8. Georgiev, 1988. 9. Makatsch, 1976. 10. Boeme, 1975. 11. Dyrcz, Janiga, 1997. 12. Patev, 1950.

Authors: Geko Spiridonov, Assen Ignatov, Georgi Stoyanov

Alpine Accentor (distribution map)

Alpine Accentor (drawing)