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 rye grass in silage fields for birds

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Leave uncut rye grass in silage fields for birds

    A replicated, controlled study on 12 farms in the West Midlands, UK (Defra 2009), in the winters of 2007-9, found that seed-eating birds (yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and reed bunting E. schoeniclus) preferentially foraged in rye grass fields that were only one cut once for silage and ungrazed, compared to twice cut (ungrazed) or control (two or more cuts and grazed) plots. Meadow pipits 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 wrens Troglodytes troglodytes preferentially foraged in all treatments except controls. Insect-eating European robins Erithacus rubecula preferentially foraged on control plots.


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