RSPB Research Project Funded by Kestrel Award-winning Lagers

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds [RSPB] is a registered charity in England, Wales and Scotland.

For 5 years Kestrel award-winning lager proudly supported the RSPB, funding a research programme to investigate the cause of the declining population of the majestic kestrel, bird of prey. The Kestrel beer brand donated over £100,000 to this worthwhile cause enabling the RSPB to explore the reasons behind the sharp decline in bird numbers since the 1960s. There were several possible causes that were explored within the project, which included:

  1. Habitat change
  2. Lack of prey (small birds and voles)
  3. Increased nest site competition from jackdaws and barn owls
  4. Increased predation from buzzards, ravens and goshawks
  5. Increased use of rodenticides ("rat poison")
  6. Negative impacts of a wetter climate (climate change)

Preliminary findings suggest that changes in agricultural practices and an increased use of rodenticides are contributing significantly to the population decline. As such, there is a reduction in food abundance, which is making hunting prey more difficult for the kestrel. We have found that beer production is also good for the kestrel population! The barley that is grown for beer production acts as a natural habitat and food source for the kestrel’s prey. This has a positive effect on food abundance and ease of hunting for the kestrel. There were also a number of agricultural practices identified from the research programme that can be introduced by farmers to support the kestrel population. These include making areas of longer and shorter grass side by side, to aid the hunting process.

Kestrel is committed to sourcing Scottish barley and ensuring kestrel bird friendly production is used where possible – we even have the grounds at the offices designed to be kestrel friendly! CEO Mike Clarke said of Kestrel "we are hugely grateful for the ongoing support we receive from Brookfield Drinks. Being able to serve Kestrel lager at some of our events really adds to the messaging we promote about wildlife friendly food production".