(with A. Vella) Birds associated with agricultural crops in Malta. 2002. In Chamberlain, D., & Wilson, A. (Eds). Avian Landscape Ecology, pp. 238-41. International Association for Landscape Ecology, UK Region. IALE (UK)
The range of resident birds in Malta is restricted (22 species), but that of spring and autumn migrants is much wider (over 300 species-BirdLife Malta 2002). Numbers vary with both species and year.
For many species, agricultural land provides food and shelter during migration. Tall woody plants (fruit orchards, citrus groves, carobs (Ceratonia siliqua), canes (Arundo donax)) shelter, e.g. robins, warblers, orioles. Open fields and vineyards bear, e.g. starlings and (resident) sparrows, short toe'd larks. The phase of growth of crop plants (dependent on season and water) also influences bird preferences.
Occasionally, birds may damage crops, but most aid these by controlling insect and rodent pests.
Knowledge of avian landscape ecology helps the incorporation of bird-friendly policies into development plans.