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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Bird abundance is significantly higher on wild bird cover crops than on set-aside, overwinter stubble or conventional fields

Published source details

Parish D.M.B. & Sotherton N.W. (2004) Game crops and threatened farmland songbirds in Scotland: a step towards halting population declines?: Capsule During winter songbirds were far more abundant in game cover crops than conventional agricultural habitats. Bird Study, 51, 107-107


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

Leave overwinter stubbles Bird Conservation

A replicated, randomised, controlled study from November-February in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 in 20 arable farms in eastern Scotland (Parish & Sotherton 2004) found that, of 23 species recorded, only skylarks Alauda arvensis were significantly denser in fields with stubble left over winter than fields with wild bird cover crops or conventional crops. Stubble fields were those in which cereal and oilseed rape stubbles were left over winter. Between 6.2 and 28.3 ha were sampled on each farm annually. This study is discussed in more detail in ‘Plant wild bird cover crops’ and ‘Provide set-aside areas’.

 

Leave overwinter stubbles Farmland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, controlled study from November-February in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 in 20 arable farms in eastern Scotland (Parish & Sotherton 2004) found that, of 23 bird species recorded, only Eurasian skylark Alauda arvensis was significantly more abundant in fields with stubble left over winter than fields with wild bird cover crops or conventional crops. Stubble fields were those in which cereal and oilseed rape stubbles were left over winter. Six to 28 ha were sampled on each farm annually.

 

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Bird Conservation

A replicated, randomised, controlled study from November-February in 2000/2001 and 2001/2002 in 20 arable farms in eastern Scotland (Parish & Sotherton 2004) found that, of 23 species recorded, only Eurasian skylarks were found at higher densities in fields with set-aside than fields with wild bird cover crops or conventional crops. Bird density was up to 100 times greater in wild bird cover crops than on set-aside fields. The wild bird cover crops attracted 50% more species than set-aside fields. Of eight species with sufficient data for individual analysis, seven were consistently significantly more abundant in wild bird cover than in set-aside fields. Set-aside fields were those in which cereal stubble was left to regenerate naturally. Between 6 and 28 ha were sampled on each farm annually.

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Bird Conservation

A replicated, randomised, controlled study from November-February in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 in 20 arable farms in eastern Scotland (Parish & Sotherton 2004) found that farmland bird abundance and diversity were significantly higher in fields containing wild bird cover crops (0.6-4.2 ha sampled annually) than fields with set-aside, fields with overwinter stubble or fields with conventional crops. Bird density was up to 100 times higher/ha in wild bird cover crops than on control fields. The wild bird cover crops attracted 50% more species than set-aside and stubble fields; and 91% more than the conventional fields. Of eight species with sufficient data for individual analysis, seven were consistently significantly more abundant in wild bird cover than in control crops. However, skylarks were significantly more abundant in set-aside and stubble fields. The authors point out that many of the species that favour wild bird cover crops are those currently causing concern because of their declining populations.

 

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, controlled study from November-February in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 on 20 arable farms in eastern Scotland (Parish & Sotherton 2004a) found that farmland bird abundance and diversity were significantly higher in fields containing wild bird cover crops (0.6-4.2 ha sampled annually) than fields with set-aside, fields with overwinter stubble or fields with conventional crops. Bird density was up to 100 times higher/ha in wild bird cover crops than on control fields. Wild bird cover crops attracted 50% more species than set-aside and stubble fields and 91% more than conventional fields. Of eight species with sufficient data for individual analysis, seven were consistently significantly more abundant in wild bird cover than in control crops. However, Eurasian skylarks Alauda arvensis were significantly more abundant in set-aside and stubble fields. The authors point out that many of the species that favour wild bird cover crops are those currently causing concern because of their declining populations.

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Farmland Conservation

A replicated, controlled site comparison study from November-February in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 on 20 arable farms in eastern Scotland (Parish & Sotherton 2004) found that, of 23 species recorded, only skylarks (Alauda arvensis) were significantly denser in fields with set-aside than fields with wild bird cover crops or conventional crops. Bird density was up to 100 times higher in wild bird cover crops than on set-aside fields. The wild bird cover crops attracted 50 % more species than set-aside fields. Of eight species with sufficient data for individual analysis, seven were consistently more abundant in wild bird cover than in set-aside fields. Set-aside fields were those in which cereal stubble was left to regenerate naturally. Between 6.2 and 28.3 ha were sampled on each farm annually.