, Volume 94, Issue 5, pp 412-415
Date: 10 Jan 2007

House sparrows benefit from the conservation of white storks

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As with many farmland bird species, the house sparrow Passer domesticus is declining in Europe, mainly due to intensification of agriculture reducing nest sites and food supplies. During 2002–2005, we studied the population size and nest site characteristics of house sparrows breeding within white stork Ciconia ciconia nests in a large area of agricultural landscape within western Poland. To explain sparrow density within stork nests, we examined characteristics of white stork nests (position, age, productivity) and the farm type around the nest. House sparrow density was greatest in the longest established (and hence larger) white stork nests located on traditionally managed farms. Two recent changes appear to have adverse effects on house sparrows. The first is the intensification of farming and the second is active management of white stork nests on electric poles to reduce nest size and thus avoid both disruption to the electrical supply and electrocution of white storks. Because the white stork has such a high profile in Poland, there are numerous schemes to conserve and enhance this species. In conclusion, we clearly show that protecting one species can have valuable, although unplanned, benefits to another species of conservation interest, the house sparrow.