Buy-out program successfully protects imperiled California species.
San Francisco, Calif. — Through cooperative agreements with farmers in California’s Central Valley, a historic one hundred percent of rare Tricolored Blackbird colonies on agricultural fields were protected during the 2016 harvest season. Working with the USDA California Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and their Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Tricolored Blackbird Project, Audubon California helped seven farmers delay the silage harvest, saving roughly 57,000 birds on 378 acres.
“More than 90 percent of the world’s Tricolored Blackbirds live in California, so we have a special responsibility to protect them,” said Samantha Arthur, conservation program manager at Audubon California. “Reaching this milestone shows what private landowners can do to help a declining species and make a big conservation impact. There are many other threatened species we hope to protect through collaborations like this.”
Audubon California collaborates with NRCS, Western United Dairies, Dairy Cares, Sustainable Conservation and the California Farm Bureau Federation to create agreements with dairy farmers to delay harvests to allow the young Tricolored Blackbirds time to fledge — an approximately 40-day process. Agreements with dairy farmers have saved many thousands of blackbirds since 2011, but this is the first year every colony found in an agricultural field was protected.