Rural/agricultural bird research in the Dutch county of Limburg.

Rural/agricultural bird research in the Dutch county of Limburg.Over the last few years various tasks concerning nature and environment have been transferred from the government to the county councils. These authorities are now responsible for purchasing and managing valuable natural habitat, and for the enforcement of environmental legislation.

Most county councils also undertake wildlife monitoring, conducting specific research into bird populations, vegetation and vulnerable species such as the common hamster Cricetus cricetus. With these data the authorities are able to see where particular species live and how healthy their populations are over time, and use the information to adjust land management policies.

Around the year 2000 the hamster population was really dire. Their population decreased so rapidly that they were on the verge of extinction. With government aid a rescue plan was put in place. It proved to be successful and there are currently about 700 hamsters in Limburg. As part of the plan special protection areas were reated for the hamsters and these also seem to have benefited farmland bird species. During the winter in particular these areas harbour large numbers of birds such as Tree Sparrows Passer montanus, Greenfinches Carduelis chloris, Linnets C. cannabina and Yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella. During some winters over 100 of the endangered Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra have been spotted there.

With the aid of Vivara’s products the county council of Limburg is continuing to study these birds during the winter months.

2012 update: This area is very attractive to sparrows, finches and buntings, which are present in large numbers during the winter.  The researchers are very happy with the food provided by Vivara as the birds love it, making it easier to catch and ring the Tree Sparrows and Yellowhammers that are their main target species. 

The black sunflower seeds are particularly attractive, drawing in hundreds of birds during snowy weather when natural food sources are hidden by snow.