Farmland birds remain among the most threatened species in this country and their decline is nothing short of cataclysmic.

Birds such as skylark, yellowhammer, corn bunting, linnet and grey partridge have adapted to living, feeding, and even nesting within the kind of habitats traditionally provided by farming methods. For example, this could be hedgerows, the field of crops itself, or wild margin areas.  

The reasons for their decline are varied but of course intensive agriculture that has brought about habitat loss, and the use of pesticide that reduces the number of insects available to feed on, have both played significant roles in the shrinking of farmland bird populations. For a more detailed and personal perspective on the decline of farmland birds read Nicholas Watts' account based on his surveys.  

Contributions to winter feeding are a lifeline to these birds. Without enough available seed some won’t survive. Where supplementary feeding is already happening, we can see the difference it’s making through our monitoring. For example, Lark Rise Farm in Cambridgeshire is managed in a nature-friendly way and bucks many national statistics for farmland birds.  

In part, this is because the right habitat is provided at the farm, but also because there is supplementary winter feed put out. Lark Rise farmer Tim Scott has hoppers positioned around his fields that he fills with a mixture of wheat, barley or triticale and often indigenous weed seeds too. He says the inclusion of indigenous weed seeds is important as
it’s a reflection of what the birds will be feeding on naturally. 


These provide much-needed winter feed for grey partridge – a Red-listed species that has been identified as under threat but is thriving at Lark Rise – and yellowhammer, linnet (pictured above left) and other farmland species. 


At many of our other farms, such as Turnastone Court Farm in Herefordshire and Twyford in West Sussex, we have feeders in place throughout winter that are regularly visited by farmland species and woodland birds such as woodpecker, robin and nuthatch. By ensuring there is sufficient feed at the right time, we’re able to help the birds survive harsh winters and make it through to spring when natural food is plentiful and they’re able to breed again.  

How you can help

We are currently an appeal raising money to buy supplementary bird seed for seven of our farms. You can make a donation at Winter meals for farmland birds

By supporting this initiative, you will play an important part in helping to reverse the decline in nature and bring back wild plant and animal life to the working countryside. 

Winter meals for farmland birds