Kestrels are one of our best known birds of prey - their characteristic hovering flight a familiar site for many over motorways and the countryside across the UK. However, in recent years their numbers have been declining at a worrying rate - by 32% since 1995, with the decline being even worse in Scotland where it is down 64%. There are various theories about what is causing this decline but no-one knows yet for sure.
Kestrel Beer has entered into a long-term partnership with the RSPB to help fund their research into the possible causes behind the declining numbers of the kestrel. Once this information is gathered and analysed, steps can be taken to hopefully reverse the decline in the kestrel population of the UK.
It is not too late for the majestic kestrel but we need to act now to make sure they remain a much-loved fixture in our countryside for generations to come. We at the Kestrel Brewing Company are very proud to be involved in this important wildlife conservation project.
The RSPB is Giving Nature a Home by tackling the problems that threaten our environment. They work for the conservation of wild birds, and other wildlife and the places in which they live in a variety of ways.
June 2014 Update: Beer is good for kestrels!
With the help of the Kestrel Brewing Company, the RSPB has been studying the kestrel to discover why populations are declining throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK and what steps can be taken to reverse this shocking trend. Several factors have been identified that could explain the drop in kestrel numbers including the food they prey on, climate change, rodenticides and competition from other species of bird of prey. It is likely a combination of some or all of these factors that have contributed to the decline of kestrel numbers in the UK.
One thing the RSPB research does show is that beer is good for kestrels. Don't worry - the RSPB isn't putting lager out for birds to drink! But beer needs barley and the research has shown that, if farmers sow more barley, this provides ideal habitat for kestrels to flourish. Staffan Roos of the RSPB told us: "There is a very strong correlation between the area of barley grown by farmers and the population level of kestrels. The same applies to land set aside without a crop. It looks as if these farmland habitats provide good foraging grounds for the small creatures kestrels mainly feed on, such as voles, songbirds and large insects."
More work is required to better understand all the potential problems that kestrels face and how they can be solved. It does, however, look as though the farmers who sow spring-sown barley not only produce one of the principle ingredients required for our favourite drink but also help threatened kestrels and the mice, voles and songbirds who share the land with one of Britain's most popular birds of prey.
For further information on this project, or the RSPB in general, please visit their