Grass silage as a new source of winter food for declining farmland birds


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Leave uncut strips of rye grass on silage fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Leave uncut strips of rye grass on silage fields

    A replicated, controlled study on 12 farms in the West Midlands, UK (Defra 2011) in the winters of 2007-2009, found that seed-eating birds (yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and reed bunting E. schoeniclus) preferentially foraged in perennial rye grass Lolium perenne fields that were only cut once for silage and ungrazed, compared to twice cut (ungrazed) or control (two or more cuts and grazed) plots. Meadow pipit Anthus pratensis (which eat seeds and insects) did not show a preference for perennial rye grass fields under different treatments and showed a weak preference for other rye grasses that were only cut once. Insect-eating winter wren Troglodytes troglodytes preferentially foraged in all treatments except controls. Insect-eating European robin Erithacus rubecula preferentially foraged on control plots.


Output references
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