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Woodland management for birds: Priority species

Conservation issues

  • Changes in agricultural practice, eg less spring sown cereals and increased use in herbicides have reduced the abundance and variety of seeds on arable land at the required times (Browne and Aebischer 2005).

  • Reduction in woodland management which reduces the shrub layer development.

  • Loss of mature hedgerows and scrub on farmland (Winspear and Davies 2005).

  • Poor structure at the woodland edge and poor coppice regeneration could limit opportunities for nesting.

  • It is possible that the peak breeding period is now out of phase with peak food availability due to climate change (Browne and Aebischer 2005).

  • Reduction in winter survival due to hunting pressures during migration and on their wintering grounds. Climatic factors in Africa, such as drought and deforestation, may reduce foraging opportunities (Browne and Aebischer 2005).

Management advice


  • Target management to key areas.

  • Essential to integrate woodland management with management of adjacent farmland.


  • Integrate long-term planning for this species into Forest Design Plans to ensure long-term viability of key habitat attributes including both nesting and feeding habitat.

Increase the extent or improve the quality of nest sites

  • Retain existing scrub areas close to open ground.

  • Encourage dense scrub on the woodland edge through managing grazing and browsing pressure, and by planting favoured shrubs, eg hawthorn.

  • Implement a coppice regime in woodlands of sufficient size.

  • Retain scattered trees as song and display posts when creating new ‘open space’.

Increase the extent or improve the quality of foraging habitat

  • Encourage more open ground within woodland with regular soil disturbance through ride, glade, open space and edge management to promote favoured weed species, eg fumitory.

  • Foraging areas outside of the woodland may have to be considered, especially where it is not possible to provide weed-rich habitat within the woodland.

  • Plant favoured shrubs such as hawthorn on new and existing woodland margins (Winspear and Davies 2005).

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