DECEMBER 10TH, 2015 - 12:30 AM MARTIN HANNAN
A SCHEME involving farmers working with bird experts in the north east of Scotland is helping to preserve the existence of an iconic Scottish bird.
The corn bunting was at risk of extinction after the number of breeding pairs fell to just 800 – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds say the bunting used to be “widespread” across Scotland.
Following rapid decline in numbers there have been several local extinctions during the last decade and the remaining pairs are mostly in east Scotland which is home to 95 per cent of Scotland’s corn buntings.
Even in their east Scotland strongholds corn buntings suffered huge declines during the 1990s and 2000s – numbers fell by 83 per cent across 30 sites.
The combination of a late breeding season, a preference for nesting in growing crops and a seed diet centred on grains along with insects fed to chicks makes corn buntings especially vulnerable to modern agricultural practices.
In an innovative project across Aberdeenshire and Moray, farmers are helping to change the fortunes of these iconic birds by working with the RSPB.
The RSPB announced the success of the scheme yesterday, saying: “Over the last 14 years, approximately 70 local farmers have worked with RSPB Scotland to monitor the number of corn buntings on their farms and conduct research about the best ways to help them.