Each year, Tricolored Blackbirds nest in just a few huge colonies in California, often in grain fields on dairy farms due to habitat loss. Without incentive to do otherwise, farmers sometimes harvest the fields before the young can fly. A machine harvester can easily wipe out 25 percent of the entire species’ young in just a few minutes. Thankfully under the lead of Keiller Kyle, Audubon California and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), have successfully saved 60,000 Tricolored Blackbirds via farmer buy-outs. This is 1/5 of the entire species’ population!
The NRCS runs a buy-out program called the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that provides technical and financial assistance to the farmers who participate in saving the birds. Farmers from Kern, Merced and Tulare counties agreed to buy-outs this year.
In addition to NRCS funding, our Five Dollars/Five Birds campaign saved almost 20,000 additional birds. Over 300 supporters stepped up and made a gift to save North America’s most colonial landbird. Audubon California’s goal is to keep increasing the bird’s numbers to more than 750,000 over the next 20 years.
Keiller Kyle is our Tricolored Blackbird Project Coordinator. Now that buy-out season is over he is focusing his efforts on creating new habitat for Tricoloreds — or “trikes” as he affectionately calls them. His ultimate goal is to attract trikes back to natural habitats. We need your help to fund the creation of habitat.