Skip to main content

As reported here, California's Tricolored Blackbirds (wiki) are in trouble. Populations have fallen 64% since 2008 and 44% since 2011. A survey released Wednesday indicates that there are only 145,000 birds left, out of a population that once was in the millions. The survey was led by UC Davis in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Audubon California.

Like their close cousins, the Red-wing Blackbirds, their preferred habitat is tules, cattails and similarly tall grasses and such. They live in enormous colonies and seldom travel more than a few miles for food. As  California's historical wetlands dried up and disappeared, the birds have had trouble finding sufficient habitat.

Most of them have flocked to the dairy farms of the Central Valley where they roost and nest in fields of grain grown to feed the dairy cattle. Unfortunately, the grain is preferably harvested before the birds and their young are ready to relocate. The mowing operations kill thousands of baby blackbirds and eggs.

"Literally, in the span of 10 minutes, 10 percent of the global population of this bird can be wiped out," said Daniela Ogden, a spokeswoman for Audubon California.
As a result, scientists have been working with farmers to create safe havens on their land. A program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture pays dairy owners to harvest their crop only after the birds' young are born and able to fly away. Some dairies have voluntarily delayed their harvests.
 There are also ongoing attempts to create replacement wetlands, but California is in the middle of a severe drought.

Originally posted to Birds and Birdwatching on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Backyard Science.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site