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Individual study: Providing over-winter food increases the abundance of granivorous species in arable farmland, particularly species of conservation concern

Published source details

Defra (2005) The consequences of spatial scale for agri-environment schemes designed to provide winter food resources for birds. BD1616. Defra report.


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

Provide supplementary food for birds or mammals Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled study from November-July 2002-2004 in 10 sites each containing seven feeding stations (placed at the centre of a 2 x 2 km tetrad) separated at set distances from each other (100 m, 500 m, 1 km, 2 km, 5 km and 10 km) in East Anglia, UK (Defra 2005) found that supplementary provision of seeds increased local seed-eating bird abundance, especially species of conservation concern. Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and chaffinch Fringilla coelebs used the feeding stations most extensively (93–100% of all stations). Although genuine population trends were difficult to infer from the experimental setup, the authors argue that food provisioning increased the local abundance of several otherwise declining species (yellowhammer, reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, house sparrow Passer domesticus and chaffinch) over two winters. Colour-ring re-sighting and radio-tracking revealed that target seed-eaters move small distances between food resources (500m – 1km) and the authors suggest placing food resources (overwinter stubbles and wild bird cover crops) at a minimum of 1 km apart in order to be cost effective in reaching the largest number of populations. Supplementary seed (10 kg of equally distributed sunflower hearts and millet) was replenished weekly. Bird use of the feeding stations was monitored twice weekly (20 min observation sessions). Results from the same experimental set-up are also presented in (Siriwardena & Stevens 2004, Siriwardena et al. 2006, Defra 2007, Siriwardena et al. 2007, Siriwardena et al. 2008).

 

Provide supplementary food for songbirds to increase adult survival Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled study covering November-July in 2002-2004 in 10 sites each containing 7 feeding stations (placed at the centre of a 2 x 2 km tetrad) separated at set distances from each other (100 m, 500 m, 1 km, 2 km, 5 km and 10 km) in East Anglia, UK  (Anon 2005) found that supplementary provision of seeds increased local seed-eating bird abundance, especially species of conservation concern. Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and chaffinches Fringilla coelebs used the feeding stations most extensively (93–100% of all stations). Although genuine population trends were difficult to infer from the experimental setup, the authors argue that food provisioning increased the local abundance of several otherwise declining species (yellowhammers, reed buntings Emberiza schoeniclus, house sparrows Passer domesticus and chaffinches) over two winters. Colour-ring re-sighting and radio-tracking revealed that target granivores move small distances between food resources (500m – 1km) and the authors suggest placing food resources (over-winter stubbles and wild bird cover crops) at a minimum of 1km apart in order to be cost effective in reaching the most number of populations. Supplementary seed (10 kg of equally distributed sunflower hearts and millet) was replenished weekly. Avian use of the feeding stations was monitored twice weekly (20 min observation sessions)