© Marcel Burkhardt
Fischer, J., M. Jenny & L. Jenni (2009)
Suitability of patches and in-field strips for Sky Larks Alauda arvensis in a small-parcelled mixed farming area.
Bird Study 56: 34–42
Capsule Sky Larks make use of agri-environment measures in winter wheat for nesting and foraging during nestling provision.
Aims To determine the suitability of in-field measures (patches and strips) for breeding Sky Larks in smallparcelled Swiss lowland farmland.
Methods Focal territories established over winter wheat fields with in-field measures (four patches or one strip per hectare sown with arable weed mix) and over conventionally managed wheat, were surveyed during one breeding season. Territories were digitized in a geographical information system based on the mapping of singing males. Breeding pairs were observed to determine the position of nest-sites and foraging spots during nestling provisioning. Breeding success and chick body condition were also determined.
Results Winter wheat fields containing in-field measures were more likely to be part of a Sky Lark territory from June onwards than conventional winter wheat fields. Conventional winter wheat fields were used significantly less in July than in May and June. When a nest was built in winter wheat it was significantly more often in or near an in-field measure than expected. During the nestling period, the infield measures were the preferred locations for foraging followed by field borders and spring sown crops.
Conclusion The tested in-field measures help to prolong the use of winter wheat for Sky Larks during the breeding season. In a mixed and small-parcelled farming system, their application is not as urgent as in larger-scale monocultures. Nevertheless, Sky Larks (as well as other wildlife species) use them actively. IP-SUISSE (the initiative to encourage integrated farming in Switzerland) encourages farmers to implement patches and in-field strips on a voluntary basis.