Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Leave refuges in fields during harvest

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • A replicated study in France found that fewer gamebirds came into contact with mowing machinery when refuges were left in fields than when they were not left.
  • A review from the UK found that Eurasian skylarks Alauda arvensis did not nest at higher densities in uncut refuges than in the rest of the fields.


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 in 1996-7 in 62 hay fields in Bourgogne, France (Broyer 2003), found that contact between mowing machinery and unfledged common quail Coturnix coturnix and corncrake Crex crex was reduced by approximately 50% and 33% respectively, by leaving 10 m wide, uncut strips in the centre of fields. In addition, unmowed strips held the highest concentrations of corncrakes, quails and passerines (7.7 birds/ha, 3.8 birds/ha and 10.8 birds/ha respectively in 1996).

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A review of four experiments on the effects of agri-environment measures on livestock farms in the UK (Buckingham et al. 2010) found one trial from 2006 to 2008 demonstrating that uncut nesting refuges for skylarks Alauda arvensis in silage fields were not used more than other areas. Refuge plots of 1 ha were cut with raised mowing height in the first silage cut, then left uncut for the rest of the season. The plots were preferred for re-nesting for two weeks following the first cut, but subsequently did not have higher nest densities than other areas. Skylarks continually re-nest rather than re-nesting in a batch after each cut. After the second cut, safe areas were completely avoided by skylarks. This study formed part of a Defra-funded project (BD1454) for which no reference is given in the review.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 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

Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

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.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust