Study

The use of winter bird crops by farmland birds in lowland England

  • Published source details Henderson I.G., Vickery J.A. & Carter N. (2004) The use of winter bird crops by farmland birds in lowland England. Biological Conservation, 118, 21-32.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

    A replicated, randomised, controlled study over the winters of 1998-2001 in 192 plots of arable fields in lowland England (Henderson et al. 2004) found that farmland birds were significantly greater in density and diversity on wild bird cover crops than on conventional crops. Although there were no significant differences between wild bird covers containing a single plant species and conventional crops, bird density was 50 times higher on ‘preferred’ wild bird covers. Kale Brassica oleracae viridus-dominated wild bird cover supported the widest range of species (especially insectivores and seed-eaters), quinoa Chenopodium quinoa dominated wild bird cover were mainly used by finches and tree sparrows Passer montanus and (unharvested) seeding cereals were mainly used by buntings. Sunflowers, phacelia and buckwheat were the least preferred wild bird cover. All bird species, besides Eurasian skylarks, corn buntings Miliaria calandra and rooks Corvus frugilegus, were significantly denser on wild bird cover. The differences between wild bird cover were more marked in late-winter as kale and quinoa retained seeds for longer periods. Within each plot, one wild bird cover and up to four conventional crops were surveyed at least once.

     

  2. Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

    A replicated, randomized, controlled study over the winters of 1998-2001 in 192 plots of arable fields in lowland England (Henderson et al. 2004) (same study as (Boatman et al. 2003)) found significantly higher density and diversity of farmland birds on wild bird cover crops than conventional crops. Although there were no significant differences between wild bird covers containing a single plant species and conventional crops, bird density was 50 times higher on ‘preferred’ wild bird covers. Kale Brassica oleracae viridus-dominated wild bird covers supported the widest range of bird species (especially insectivores and seed-eaters), quinoa Chenopodium quinoa-dominated wild bird covers were mainly used by finches and tree sparrows Passer montanus and (unharvested) seeding cereals were mainly used by buntings. Sunflowers Helianthus spp., phacelia Phacelia spp. and buckwheat Fagopyron esculentum were the least preferred wild bird covers. All species, except Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis, corn bunting Miliaria calandra and rook Corvus frugilegus, were significantly denser on wild bird cover. The differences between wild bird covers were more marked in late-winter as kale and quinoa Chenopodium quinoa retained seeds for longer periods. Within each plot, one wild bird cover and up to four conventional crops were surveyed at least once.

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