Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Crumbs of comfort for farmland birds

Research on the food preferences of declining farmland birds proves that food variety is the key to helping these birds in winter.

The RSPB study says that cereal grains such as wheat and oats are the preferred winter food for house sparrows, corn buntings and yellowhammers on farmland while tree sparrows also eat sunflower hearts and rape seeds, and reed buntings consume maize.

The research underlines the importance of green farming schemes through which farmers are paid to help wildlife. Amongst options farmers can choose are the provision of winter seed and the retention of over-winter stubbles, which means spilt grain and weeds seeds are not cleared as autumn crops are sown.

The paper, published this month in the journal Bird Study, found that house and tree sparrows ate the most varied diets because they crushed grain in their bills rather than trying to remove the husks.

Other species struggled with the husks of barley and rye-grass, which are difficult to strip from the kernel.

Allan Perkins, lead author and a researcher at the RSPB, said: “Few studies have looked at the food choices of individual farmland birds and this research shows just how crucial it is to provide a mixture of food to help different species survive.

“This mixture would have been automatically available before farming became so efficient because more weeds would have survived and plenty of grain spilt from the autumn harvest.

“Farmers now trying to help birds should provide a variety of food but also cater for the preferences of birds in their area. And they should also consider which plants produce most seeds in their local soil and climate.”

All five birds studied have suffered severe declines across western Europe in the last 35 years and all are on the red list of birds of conservation concern because of the extent of their declines.

In the UK, tree sparrows have declined most with numbers down by 94 per cent, followed by corn buntings which have suffered an 89 per cent decline. House sparrows have declined in both rural and urban areas, by 50 and 58 per cent respectively.

Cath Harris | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>