5 November 2001
Plan to end farm bird decline

By FWi staff

NEW research into the feeding habits of farmland birds will help reverse the decline of certain endangered species, the government has claimed.

A 200,000 government-funded research project has found marked preferences for certain crops by different birds.

Many of the bird species monitored in a three-and-a-half year project based in Leicestershire have experienced declining population in recent years.

Countryside minister Elliot Morley said the project will help formulate guidelines for feeding farmland birds.

“Im delighted its practical application will contribute to our efforts to reverse the decline of some well-loved farmland birds,” he said.

A lack of food during the winter due to the trend on farms for sowing crops earlier has contributed to the decline, according to the research.

The government announced earlier this year that farmers will be offered grants to provide wildlife seed mixtures for birds.

This will become an option for farmers under the Countryside Stewardship scheme from January 2002 when seven new arable options are incorporated.

The study showed that yellowhammers prefer cereals, greenfinches like sunflowers and goldfinches prefer linseed.

It also showed that a wide range of birds were attracted by two crops sown to attract game birds to farmland, second-year kale and quinoa.

The study was carried out by the Game Conservancy Trust and the British Trust for Ornithology.