Provide short grass for birds

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • A replicated UK study found that common starlings and northern lapwing spent more time foraging on short grass, compared to longer grass, and that starlings captured more prey in short grass.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated study from January to May 2002 of 15 northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus chicks on one grassland site in the Isle of Islay, UK and 20 common starlings Sturnus vulgaris on one grassland site each in Oxfordshire, UK (Devereux et al. 2004) found that both species experienced significantly greater foraging success in shorter grass. For lapwing chicks, foraging rate declined as grass height increased. Starlings spent 30% more time actively foraging and captured 33% more prey in short grass, although intake rate (captures per second of active foraging) did not differ between long and short grass. Invertebrate abundance did not differ between long and short grass. Fertilizer application and water level was manipulated to provide a range of grass heights on the lapwing site. Starlings were observed in enclosures placed within intensively managed permanent pasture that was mown to either 3 cm (short grass) or 13 cm (tall grass).

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Dicks, L.V., Ashpole, J.E., Dänhardt, J., James, K., Jönsson, A., Randall, N., Showler, D.A., Smith, R.K., Turpie, S., Williams, D.R. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Farmland Conservation. Pages 283-321 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Farmland Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Farmland Conservation
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What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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