The impact of farming on over-wintering bird populations

Field boundaries and fields in stubble, set-aside, winter wheat and improved grassland in County Kildare were surveyed for birds on 15 occasions between October 2001 and February 2002. A total of 40 species was recorded on all sites during the period of the study. Arable farming that retains stubble throughout the winter supports the greatest species richness and diversity with the lowest being recorded on improved grassland. Individual species showed preference for certain sites. Seed-feeding species, yellowhammer and skylark, preferred stubble while invertebrate-feeding species, fieldfare and meadow pipit preferred grassland. The analysis demonstrated that certain components of habitat were responsible for differences in species present and density.