Help needed to save rare tree sparrows

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SCHOOLS have been asked to help save an endangered bird species - whose last remaining stronghold is on their doorstep.

Environmental charity Central Scotland Forest Trust (CSFT) is calling for support from local primary schools in East Dunbartonshire following the launch of its Tree Sparrow Rescue campaign.

Tree sparrows, a relative of the more familiar house sparrow, are found in the countryside and rich farmland - and East Dunbartonshire has historically provided the perfect habitat for the species to flourish.

However, tree sparrows have declined massively across the UK - and now their last remaining stronghold in Greater Glasgow is in the Millichen area, between Balmore Road and Dobbie’s Garden Centre, bordering on Bearsden and Milngavie.

The population crash has been attributed to a loss of habitat and a reduction of food availability caused by changes in farming practices which have increased the use of herbicides.

Volunteers have had to help the Millichen population by putting up nest boxes.

To help protect and rescue tree sparrows in the area, CSFT, along with partners including RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and North Lanarkshire Council, is encouraging primary schools in Bearsden and Milngavie to apply for a Tree Sparrow Rescue Pack.

This includes information and educational resources about the species, posters, leaflets and activities to help protect the small birds and a bird feeder, as well as six suet balls for the school grounds to ensure there is food available for local tree sparrows.

Emilie Wadsworth, Heritage Officer at CSFT, said: “Following the success of our ‘Save the Wee Bees’ and ‘Alarm Bells for Bluebells’ campaigns, we wanted to protect another popular species in the surrounding area which is currently facing decline.

“The Tree Sparrow Rescue Packs are a fun and interactive way of teaching children about the environment and we hope that local primary schools in East Dunbartonshire will do their bit and join our quest to rescue the tree sparrows.”

For further information about the Tree Sparrows Rescue campaign and to apply for a Tree Sparrows Rescue Pack, e-mail emilie.wadsworth@csft.org.uk