Home > The Corncrake > Understanding the decline of the species > Loss of breeding habitats and degradation

Loss of breeding habitats and degradation

Tuesday 23 July 2013, by Julien Lusson

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The decline of the Corncrake in France is mainly due to the disappearance of wet meadows in alluvial valleys. These grasslands are often drained and converted to growing corn or poplars.

Indeed, the future of permanent meadows is highly dependent on the CAP. If the CAP does not continue its support of grassland within agricultural systems, meadows will remain only in the wettest areas where nothing else can be grown.


Occasionally, the decline of agriculture has led to some meadows being abandoned. Left without any form of management at all, these grasslands revert to a type no longer suitable for hosting Corncrakes. However, in some local areas, these abandoned fields may provide a refuge habitat when the surrounding meadows are cut. This is the case with fallow land in Picardy, and reed beds in Anjou.

Finally, aggregate extraction activity has had a significant impact on Corncrake habitats in the past. In the “Moyenne vallée de l’Oise” (in the area designated as IBA, not SPA), for example, several dozen hectares suitable for Corncrakes were lost.



Thousands of hectares of alluvial grassland are concerned by this management issue, particularly in the Basses Vallées Angevines, the Loire, Charente and Oise valleys.


These impacts are limiting the population both of field-dwelling animals and of farmland breeding birds such as : Saxicola rubetra (Whinchat), Motacilla flava (Yellow Wagtail), Emberiza schoeniclus (Common Reed Bunting). They also affect wintering and migratory bird species : waders (Black-tailed Godwit) and other Anatidae.