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Save Our Seed-eaters

RSPB Urges Arable Farmers To Throw A Lifeline To Starving Birds

With the harvesting season under way, the RSPB is asking arable farmers to throw a lifeline to starving birds by retaining half a tonne of grain, or seed-rich tailings, to feed to sparrows, finches and buntings over the winter.

The declines of some of our most familiar seed-eating farmland birds have been dramatic. For example, for every 100 tree sparrows we had in the UK in 1970, we now only have five!

For three years, under the Bird Aid scheme, the RSPB has worked with 60 farmers across the UK to feed seed-eating birds over the winter. Using the huge numbers of birds visiting the feeding sites as a measure of success, the Society now wants to roll the measure out to the widest number of farmers across the UK.The combined effect of more-efficient farming operations and changes in farming practices have reduced the availability of seeds over winter, causing a shortage of food for some birds, particularly sparrows and buntings.

Richard Winspear, the RSPB`s farmland advisor, said: Many farmers are keen to help the declining birds on their land. Some of them in the scheme have been amazed at the huge flocks of birds, sometimes numbering hundreds, visiting the feed sites. RSPB research has shown that half the population feed their garden birds every week, we believe this is a simple lifeline that farmers can use to help feed their birds too.Under the scheme, farmers are urged to dispense quantities of seed regularly on a non-cropped area of ground, such as a farm track. The site, which should be free-draining, should be away from grain or animal feed stores, but close to a hedge to give the birds access to shelter.

Full advice is available from the RSPB. To speak to the RSPB`s farmland advisor, telephone: 01767 680551. Alternatively, details of the Bird Aid scheme are available on the RSPB`s website: http://www.rspb.org.uk

For further information please contact: Grahame Madge, RSPB press officer, on 01767 681577. Out of hours, please telephone: 07702 196902 (mobile)

4th July 2014