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Lack of winter food threat to Dutch skylark

20 August 2014

Skylarks that spend the winter in the Netherlands do not have enough food. This conclusion, drawn by researchers at Wageningen University and the University of Groningen, has been published in the scientific Journal of Ornithology. The biologists spent an entire winter counting skylarks in 77 different fields on the borders between Friesland and Drenthe. They also compiled an inventory of the potential food for the birds by analysing the density of various seeds on the ground and counting the plants and insects in the area. In addition, they collected hundreds of skylark droppings.

‘A German expert analysed the droppings under a microscope to find out what the birds had eaten’, explains Flavia Geiger from Wageningen University, who headed the research. By combining the data relating to skylark numbers, availability of food and food choice, the researchers found indications that the birds were not getting enough to eat during the Dutch winters. ‘In winter, skylarks need large fields in open countryside, with a high density of seeds’, says Arne Hegemann from the University of Groningen.

More information

Publicatie: Geiger F, Hegemann A, Gleichman M, Flinks H, de Snoo GR, Prinz S, Tieleman BI & Berendse F (2014): Habitat use and diet of Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) wintering in an intensive agricultural landscape of the Netherlands. Journal of Ornithology 155: 507–518.

Last modified:12 March 2020 9.50 p.m.
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