Continuing my theme of feeding the birds in winter (thanks to ample berries and fruits, the flowers of which were pollinated by bees), I was reminded of the plight of farmland birds.
It’s relevant to bees, because I think it raises further questions about intensive agriculture practice and chemical use.
BirdLife International gathered data from across Europe, monitoring populations of farmland birds.
Europe-wide monitoring schemes have highlighted declines in farmland birds over a 30 year period.
BirdLife point out that these population trends of representative suites of wild birds can indicate the health of the environment, for birds and wider biodiversity.
I haven’t drilled down into the data, but previous analysis by Dr Henk Tennekes has shown that farmland birds which feed insects and invertebrates to their chicks (even if they as adult birds eat seeds), are significantly affected.
Within the context of intensive farming practices, BirdLife’s findings shouldn’t surprise us.
I would urge wildlife charities to take the lead
in this issue. As a priority:
the excessive use of agrochemicals, encourage and reward more farmers to incorporate
quality pollinator margins and hedgerows – some farmers are already doing this,
it would be great to see more.
One practice in my country that concerns me greatly, is the strimming of farmland hedgerows and the removing of berries in winter, before the birds have chance to eat them! All they would need to do is wait for a few weeks – it’s perfectly obvious which hedgerows have berries!
I believe this is something wildlife organisations could influence via government policy and recommendation.