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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Winter usage of different wild bird cover crops by passerines on farmland on the Raby Estate, County Durham, England

Published source details

Stoate C., Szczur J. & Aebischer N.J. (2003) Winter use of wild bird cover crops by passerines on farmland in northeast England. Bird Study, 50, 15-21


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled study over the winters of 1997-1998, 1998-1999 and 2000/01 in approximately 15 experimental and 15 control fields on one arable, autumn-sown crop farm in County Durham, England (Stoate et al. 2003) found that farmland bird abundance was significantly higher in wild bird cover crops than commercial crops (420 birds/km2 in wild bird cover vs. 30-40/km2 for commercial crops). Of 11 species with sufficient data for analysis, exhibited significant preference for wild bird cover crops in all species-year combinations birds. Of the wild bird cover crops, kale Brassica napus crops were preferred by nine species and quinoa Chenopodium quinoa crops by six species, although cereals and linseed were also used. The wild bird cover crops were planted in approximately 20 cm wide strips along one edge of arable wheat, barley or oil-seed rape fields. Bird counts were conducted twice monthly from October-March in 1997-1998; and three times per month from October-December as well as twice monthly from January-March in 1998-1999 and 2000-2001.

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study over the winters of 1997-1998, 1998-1999 and 2000-2001 on one arable, autumn-sown crop farm in County Durham, England (Stoate et al. 2003) found that farmland bird abundance was significantly higher in wild bird cover crops than commercial crops (420 birds/km2 in wild bird cover vs 30-40/km2 for commercial crops). Of 11 species with sufficient data for analysis, all species-year combinations exhibited significant preferences for wild bird cover crops. Of the wild bird cover crops, kale Brassica napus crops were preferred by nine species and quinoa Chenopodium quinoa crops by six species; cereals and linseed Linum usitatissimum were also used. The wild bird cover crops were planted in c. 20 m-wide strips along one edge of arable wheat, barley or oilseed rape fields. There were approximately 15 experimental and 15 control fields. Bird counts were conducted twice monthly from October-March in 1997-1998 and three times per month from October-December as well as twice monthly from January-March in 1998-1999 and 2000-2001.