Towards the end of 2023, we invited you to combine gift giving with protecting wildlife by choosing one of our Twelve Gifts of Christmas. We were delighted by your positive response and hope the recipients of your gifts were equally thrilled. 

We wasted no time in making sure your gifts were put to good use on CRT farms and the first gift we want to tell you about is winter meals for birds; we have been able to buy £300 worth of bird seed to distribute at Lark Rise farm in Cambridgeshire to help support farmland birds.  


The supplementary feeding programme encourages higher numbers of farmland birds in particular, birds such as yellowhammers, linnets and reed buntings, which are currently on the Red List. By providing these species with vital support during the winter months when natural sources of sustenance are in short supply, we hope that they will be able to breed in higher numbers further afield. 


For small birds, the struggle to find sustenance can be a case of life or death, so having a continuous supply of food all year round is of paramount importance. Research conducted by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust revealed that providing food at winter feeding stations boosted breeding numbers of both songbirds and farmland birds by a whopping 30%. 


Conservation Officer, Vince Lea, told us that this year he has taken a slightly different approach to feeding the birds this winter in order to reduce the spread of disease, such as avian flu and trichomonosis (more commonly referred to as canker or flounce), which is spread by a parasitic worm. Rather than always putting birdseed in the same location, Vince scatters it thinly over a larger area and in different locations on the farm.  


Lark Rise Farm enjoys relatively high numbers of avian visitors in the winter months thanks to the way it is managed. In December, Vince took a count of 422 yellowhammers; in winter 2001-2002 no yellowhammers were recorded there at all!   


With the Twelve Gifts funding, Vince hopes to keep improving numbers of farmland birds. He invested in a mix of pinhead-sized seed from a reliable wildlife-friendly source: Vine House Farm. The mix is mainly red millet grain with some white millet, canary seed and oilseed rape, so it doesnt appeal to large birds like wood pigeons and pheasants, but is perfect for encouraging yellowhammers, linnets and buntings.   

How you can help

During four winter months about £100 per month is spent on each of the seven farms that have supplementary feeding programmes in order to allow our feathered friends to find a vital food source. We need your help to fund this.

Please select a donation amount (required)

Wildlife blog: Winter feeding makes the difference