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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Separating supplementary feeding stations may increase the number of farmland passerines using them

Published source details

Siriwardena G.M., Calbrade N.A., Vickery J.A. & Sutherland W.J. (2006) The effect of the spatial distribution of winter seed food resources on their use by farmland birds. Journal of Applied Ecology, 43, 628-639


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

Provide supplementary food for birds or mammals Farmland Conservation

The Winter Food for Birds project (see (Siriwardena & Stevens 2004)) was continued in the winter of 2003-2004 and this study discusses the data from both winters (Siriwardena et al. 2006). For four songbird species (blue tit Parus caeruleus, chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, great tit P. major and robin Erithacus rubecula), feeding stations were used more frequently and by more birds if they were more than 500 m from other stations, compared with stations less than 500 m from neighbours. The same pattern was seen (but not significant) in blackbird Turdus merula and house sparrow Passer domesticus. Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella and reed bunting E. schoeniclus, however, used clustered sites more. There was no significant impact of distance on feeder use by greenfinch Carduelis chloris, goldfinch C. carduelis or dunnock Prunella modularis. All species used multiple stations if they were closer than 500 m apart, but used only single stations if they were more widely spaced. The authors use this information to recommend that stations are placed at least 1 km apart to maximize cost-effectiveness (i.e. to ensure the maximum number of birds have access to supplementary food). Results from the same experimental set-up are also presented in (Siriwardena & Stevens 2004, Defra 2005, Defra 2007, Siriwardena et al. 2007, Siriwardena et al. 2008).

 

Provide supplementary food for songbirds to increase adult survival Bird Conservation

The Winter Food for Birds project (see Siriwardena & Stevens 2004) was continued in the winter of 2003-4 and the data from three winters are discussed in Siriwardena et al. 2006. For four songbird species (blue tit Parus caeruleus, chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, great tit P. major and robin Erithacus rubecula), feeding stations were used more frequently and by more birds if they were more than 500 m from other stations, compared with stations less than 500 m from neighbours. The same pattern was seen (but not significant) in blackbirds Turdus merula and house sparrows Passer domesticus. Yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella and reed buntings E. schoeniclus, however, used clustered sites more. There was no significant impact of distance of feeder use by greenfinches Carduelis chloris, goldfinches C. carduelis or dunnocks Prunella modularis. Local populations of all species divided themselves between multiple stations if they were closer than 500 m apart, but used only single stations if they were more widely spaced. The authors use this information to recommend that supplementary food resources provided for conservation purposes should be stations are placed at least 1 km apart to maximise cost-effectiveness (i.e. to ensure the maximum number of birds have access to supplementary food).