Oilseed rape a haven for linnets


4 July 2001



Oilseed rape a haven for linnets


By FWi staff

OILSEED rape is helping to halt the decline in the population of linnets, according to new research.

Investigations by the RSPB and Biotechnology and the Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) found that rape fields provide a haven for the bird.

Adult linnets are exploiting unripe oilseed rape seeds from May onwards to feed their chicks.

More than 900 linnet nests were monitored on 10 farms by Darren Moorcroft, RSPB conservation officer.

He found that one third of chicks starved to death in nests on a farm with no oilseed rape.

On farms with the crop in the area most chicks were well fed.

Mr Moorcroft said the research showed how closely linked farmland birds and farming really were.

But he said the future of both was out of the industrys hands.

The future of farmers and birds such as linnets and skylarks is at the whim of national and European politicians.

We find many farmers want to do more for the wildlife on their land, but they need more money through agri-environment schemes to allow them to do it, he said.

The RSPB estimates that linnets have fallen by 40%, skylarks by 75% and song thrushes by around 60% in the past 30 years.

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