The Donkey Sanctuary has today announced a new set of initiatives to protect three species of rare birds that have recently been discovered living amongst the resident donkeys.
The once common Yellowhammer, Linnet and Skylark population have all been designated ‘Red’ status by the British Trust for Ornithology due to alarming population declines but have been identified as breeding on Donkey Sanctuary farmland. The animal welfare charity has put measures in place to protect these vulnerable species during the summer breeding months.
James Chubb, wildlife expert at The Donkey Sanctuary, says: “What these birds need is minimal disturbance and good scruffy long grass in which to forage and nest. We will be allocating areas to be left to grow long to ensure ground nesting birds are not destroyed and we have put signage on public footpaths to ask people to keep dogs on leads and to stick to the marked routes. With sympathetic management, it is our intention to protect these species and other wildlife which calls our Sanctuary home”
Annie Brown, General Farms Manager, says “James has worked with the farm staff so that they are able to identify these important birds and learn to about their preferred habitat. We are delighted to see the birds living so happily alongside the donkeys and are now looking at ways of managing the hedgerows and banks to make them even more bird and mammal friendly”.
All three species have experienced dramatic declines since the 1980s, with their disappearance attributed to an intensification of farming practices. Post-war changes in the management of farms have lead to a loss of suitable breeding opportunities for these birds, as well as a decline in food for the adult birds and an abundance of insects to feed their chicks. By mindfully protecting these three important factors it is hoped that this thirty-year decline can be halted, and even reversed, on The Donkey Sanctuary’s seven farms.