Study

Do wild bird seed mixtures benefit other taxa?

  • Published source details Pywell R.F., Shaw L., Meek W., Turk A., Shore R.F. & Nowakowski M. (2007) Do wild bird seed mixtures benefit other taxa? Aspects of Applied Biology, 81, 69-76

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Plant crops to provide supplementary food for mammals

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Plant crops to provide supplementary food for mammals

    A replicated, controlled study in 2004–2005 on four arable farms in southern UK (Pywell et al. 2007) found that small mammals used plots sown with a wild bird seed mix more than wheat crop in winter but not in summer. In winter, more small mammals were caught on average in the wild bird mix (27 individuals/100 trap nights) than in adjacent crops (8 individuals/100 trap nights). However, in summer, fewer were caught in the wild bird mix (<1 individual/100 trap nights) than in adjacent crops (12 individuals/100 trap nights). A mix of white millet Echinochloa esculenta, linseed Linum usitatissimum, radish Raphanus sativus and quinoa Chenopodium quinoa was sown in a 150 × 30-m patch in the centre of a winter wheat crop on each of four farms, in April 2004 and 2005. Small mammals were live-trapped over three days and nights in November–December 2004 and again in May–June 2005.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

  2. Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

    A replicated trial in 2004 and 2005 on four farms in England (Pywell et al. 2007) found that plants, insects, mammals and birds all used sown wild bird seed mix plots more than wheat crop at some times of year. The number of flowers and flowering species, the abundance and number of species of butterflies (Lepidoptera) and the number of bumblebee species Bombus spp., were all higher in the wild bird mix than in the crop. Small mammal activity was higher in the wild bird mix in winter (around 25 mammals/100 trap nights in wild bird mix, compared to around 8 in the crop), and higher in the crop in summer (around 10 mammals caught in the crop, compared to less than one on average in the wild bird mix). The number of birds and bird species were higher in the wild bird mix than the crop in December and January (around 100 birds of over three species per count on average in the wild bird mix, compared to less than 10 birds or <1 species in the crop), but not in February and March. Eurasian linnet Acanthis cannabina (at three sites) and reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus (at one site) were the most abundant bird species recorded in the wild bird mix. A seed mix containing white millet Echinochloa esculenta, linseed Linum usitatissimum, radish Raphanus sativus and quinoa Chenopodium quinoa was sown in a 150 x 30 m patch in the centre of an arable field (winter wheat) on each of four farms in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, in April 2004 and 2005. Plants, bees and butterflies were counted in summer 2005. Small mammals were trapped in November-December 2005 and May-June 2005. Birds were counted once a month between December 2004 and March 2005.

     

Output references

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