FARMERS have been asked to take a few simple steps to help reverse the fortune of the curlew.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has asked Bowland farmers to hold off cutting meadows in the Spring and wait until July, giving the curlews the time they need to nest and raise their chicks.

Famous for their long down-turned bills and beautiful and haunting call, the arrival of curlews in the hills of Northern England traditionally heralds the start of spring.

However future springs may fall silent as this much-loved wading bird is in serious trouble and could vanish in a generation unless action is taken.

The UK is one of the top three most important countries in the world for nesting curlews, hosting up to a quarter of the global breeding population.

But since the 1990s, their numbers have almost halved.

Gavin Thomas, RSPB conservation advisor, said: "Curlews like to nest in open, damp grassy areas so traditional hay meadows provide excellent habitat for them.

"By closing up meadows up in the spring and putting off mowing them until July, farmers can give curlews the time they need to nest and raise their chicks.

"If you need to cut meadows before July, keep an eye out for curlews flying up in front of the tractor from mid-April onwards, as they may have come off a nest.

"If curlews are calling repeatedly, seem agitated, are flying close by and perching up on walls or fences on the field edge, it’s likely they have chicks.

"By mowing from the centre of the field outwards, you can safely manoeuvre any flightless chicks out of the way of machinery and into the safety of neighbouring fields."