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New Grant Aims To Help Save Valley's Tricolored Blackbird

Jan 21, 2015

A Tricolored Blackbird (file photo)
Credit Linda Pittman / Audubon California

A federal grant announced today could give California dairy farmers incentive to help save the Tricolored Blackbird. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the population of the bird has plummeted in the last four years.

California’s Tricolored Blackbirds are found mainly in the southern San Joaquin Valley and often nest in fields where dairy farmers grow feed. Come harvest time, nestlings are often plowed under. That, combined with wetland loss and drought, has led to a population decline of 44 percent since 2011.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service will give $1.1 million to Audubon California and dairy farmers to help save the bird. Brigid McCormack with Audubon California says farmers would receive financial help to delay harvest.

McCormack: “There’s this opportunity right now with this partnership with NRCS and dairy farmers to save a bird from extinction, so let’s go down in history as having saved it as opposed to having lost it.”

The grant will also help entice birds to nearby wetland easements. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife approved an emergency listing for the Tricolored Blackbird under the Endangered Species Act last year.