Atlas of nesting birds in Bulgaria

Rufous-tailed Rock-thrus

(Monticola saxatilis)

Category of conservation concern (IUCN, 2020) – Least Concern

Population size: 2020: 278 – 590 pairs (2007: 1 200 – 2 500 pairs)

Distribution pattern

Species with a small population and with limited uneven distribution (Stoynov, Mitev, 2007; Nankinov, 2009). During the period 2013-2018, the species was established in 25 squares of a 10X10 km grid. Found mainly in the Stara Planina and in the Rila-Rhodope Massif, isolated localities are also found in the mountains of Western Bulgaria, Vitosha and in the Upper Thracian Plain. Most of the population lives in the mountains up to 2600 m above sea level. Isolated specimens can be found in rocky landscapes in the country. In isolated cases, it inhabits small settlements in the mountains.

Population estimation for the period 2013 – 2020: During the period 2013-2020, the species was not found in 97 squares out of a total of 119, in which it was found before the year 2013 (Stoynov, Mitev, 2007). Most of these places are relatively well studied, so its absence can definitely be considered as an indication of a significant reduction in the number of the species. Moreover, during the period 2013-2018 there were dozens of active bird photographers throughout the country, without the species (which is one of the favourites for taking pictures) being observed in the squares in question. The absence of the Rufous-tailed Rock-thrus is especially evident in some regions, such as Eastern Bulgaria. A considerable reduction in the number of the sites where it was previously observed is also established. New localities have been identified in three squares, without influencing the clear trend of significant decline (by more than 85%) in the breeding population of the species, which in the previous period 2005-2012 was estimated as 500 – 1 500 pairs ( ) or 1 200 – 1 500 pairs (Stoynov, Mitev, 2007).

Population size in Special Protection Areas of Natura 2000: 180-450 pairs (around 70% of the population). The highest numbers have been registered in the SPAs “Central Balkan” (40-100 pairs), “Pirin” (30-80 pairs), “Ponor” (20-50 pairs), and “Vratsa Balkan” (20-50 pairs).

Big size map

Breeding distribution 2013 – 2020 – The distribution and the estimation of the population size of the species for the period 2013 – 2020 is presented –

Comparative distribution of the species compared to the first breeding birds atlas (Iankov, 2007): Breeding locality until 2007 | Breeding locality until 2007, confirmed after 2015 – | New breeding locality after 2015. – The breeding localities after 2015 are identified on a base of raw data from


Breeds mainly on inland cliffs and exposed rocks, on screes close to various scrub and grassland. Often breeds close to farm buildings, chalets, substations and other buildings in the mountains, and even on aerials and roofs in the settlements, without these being confirmed as breeding habitats.

Trends in population changes for the period 2013-2020

Short-term trend of population size:

Significant decrease

Long-term trend of population size:

Significant decrease

Short-term trend of distribution:

Significant decrease

Long-term trend of distribution:

Significant decrease


Little known. Probably destruction or significant change of habitats due to construction works or development of quarries (destruction of the nesting rocks of the species), deterioration of the foraging habitats, climate change, disturbance by mountaineers and climbers. (

Peter Yankov