21 April 2015
From the sectionHighlands & Islands
Numbers of capercaillie have been falling since the 1970s
Managing woodland in a way that boosts the quality of blaeberries could in turn help to better protect a rare bird, a new report suggests.
Scottish capercaillie have declined to as few as 1,000 individuals since the 1970s.
Adult birds and their chicks feed on blaeberry leaves and the insects the plants attract.
The new research suggests better quality blaeberries are found where trees have been thinned out.
The study published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said it was likely that in these areas the plants benefitted from an increase in sunlight and also nutrients from cut branches left to rot on the forest floor.
More research would be needed to better understand how woodland management could aid this process, the report has recommended.