Bird feeders could soon become a common sight on Britain’s farms after trials found that farmland bird populations doubled when additional food was offered during winter.

The Game and Wildlife Conservancy Trust (GWCT) led a series of farm trials involving conservation groups using bird feeders during the lean “hungry gap” period from January through to late spring.

Research has shown that farmland birds find it hardest during the winter months to find food, but the feeders could help reverse the perennial decline in bird numbers.

In response to the survey results, DEFRA recently confirmed that new options will be available under environmental stewardship schemes from January 2013 to cover the costs of feeding birds during the winter.

GWCT policy director Alistair Leake, said: “Conservationists agree on the need to provide extra food sources by growing wild bird seed crops, but the continued declines in many farmland bird species suggest that this measure alone may not provide enough food to sustain birds throughout the winter.

“This study has a very clear message: if we wish to help our farmland birds, then providing them with additional grain through game hoppers or bird feeders could be critical to their survival.”