Supplementary feeding helps birds through the hungry gap
New bird feeders are providing an important seed source to birds during the hungry gap at the Allerton Project in Leicestershire.
The feeders and the seed they contain have been supplied for free by Kings and placed near the Allerton Project’s visitor centre. They contain a full feed mix, a ‘pre mix’ to which farmers can add their own wheat, as well as sunflower hearts and a red and white millet mix.
This is a vital food source for farmland birds, often vulnerable to starvation during winter when natural sources run out. To ensure birds enter spring in the best possible condition for breeding and survival, supplementary feeding during this ‘hungry gap’, from December to April, is vital.
This provision is supported by Environmental Stewardship, overseen by Natural England, with payments of up to £822 for each tonne of seed provided under the Entry Level Stewardship (EF23) and Higher Level Stewardship (HF24) options.
Seed mixtures under the HLS option, containing wheat, oilseed rape, sunflowers, linseed, red and white millet, are fed by trailing seed on the ground and via feed hoppers throughout the hungry gap.
The location of the feeders was chosen since visitors are not always able to take a look around the farm; placing them close to the main buildings provides the opportunity for those attending meetings to enjoy seeing a range of farmland birds at close quarters, including goldfinch, chaffinch, yellowhammer and greenfinch.
Kings has supported the Allerton Project, managed by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, for four years, providing seed, technical expertise and financial support to the work on stewardship features for game and farmland wildlife.