FARMERS ARE being urged to throw a lifeline to starving birds by retaining half a tonne of grain, or seed-rich tailings, to feed to birds over the winter.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds wants to extend its Bird Aid scheme, which up until now has involved just 60 farmers, so that it operates nationally.

Under the scheme, farmers are urged to dispense quantities of seed regularly on a non-cropped area of ground, such as a farm track.

The site should be free-draining, away from grain or animal feed stores, but close to a hedge to give the birds access to shelter.

Richard Winspear, the RSPB‘s farmland advisor, said: “Many farmers are keen to help the declining birds on their land.

“Some of them in the scheme have been amazed at the huge flocks of birds, sometimes numbering hundreds, visiting the feed sites.

“RSPB research has shown that half the population feed their garden birds every week, we believe this is a simple lifeline that farmers can use to help feed their birds too.”

Details of the Bird Aid scheme are available on the RSPB‘s website: www.rspb.org.uk