Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Farmers, feds, Audubon protect tricolored blackbirds again

On one Tulare County farm this year, more than 30,000 tricolored blackbirds found something they liked — silage fields resembling marshland that the birds prefer to inhabit.

Tricolored blackbirds

The farmer held off harvesting the dairy silage until the nesting and fledging had been completed by the end of May. A potential killing field was avoided.

Five other farmers did the same thing. The total number of birds involved was 65,000.

It’s another happy ending for the tricolored blackbirds, which have been protected by these harvesting delays for a few years now. And it’s a prime example of farmers helping nature.

I’ve written stories about this effort in the past. To  Western United Dairymen works with Audubon California and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service.

For dairy owners, the partnership makes sense because it is a major influence in keeping the bird off the protection list for the federal Endangered Species Act, which can be stifling to business and industry.

The tricolored blackbird is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as well as being a species of concern for both state and federal governments. About 40% of tricolored black birds nest in the Central Valley, says Audubon California.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service offer farmers financial help to compensate them for their loss of grain, due to the late harvesting.

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