The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has announced a major new experimental study to examine the impact of avian predators such as carrion crows on farmland songbird productivity.

The two?year project, commissioned and funded by Songbird Survival, will see researchers counting bird numbers on four pairs of sites that contain an abundance of both songbirds and corvids. A small number of the corvids will then be killed on one of each pair of the sites, before songbird fledglings are counted.

Dr Rufus Sage, head of lowland gamebird research for the GWCT, told Shooting Times: ?We?re talking about killing 10 or 20 corvids at each site. We have some evidence to suggest that if you remove corvids from a patch of land, the summer breeding success of songbirds in hedges goes up. This study will build up the evidence further.

?From work we did at Loddington, we found that when you remove some corvids, hatch rate and chick survival of songbirds improve. I have now developed a new method for measuring post-nesting fledgings, so we can actually go along hedges and count broods of songbirds that have left the nest. The control of crows and magpies is important for game management, but we think it has wildlife benefits, too.?

The rest of this article appears in 9th February issue of Shooting Times.

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