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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual 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

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

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture Farmland Conservation

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.