Helping Our Environment through Creative Collaboration
By Luke Matthews
The California Ricelands Waterbird Foundation just completed the first season of its very own habitat program, Bid4Birds. The successful execution of this program is a significant benchmark for the Foundation, which has been constantly increasing its activities since its inception in 2015. Unlike previous habitat programs that the Foundation helped fund, the Bid4Birds program has been completely owned and operated by the Foundation with funding from its generous donors.
Bid4Birds is designed to turn farmers fields into temporary seasonal wetland habitat for migrating shorebirds and other waterbirds. Bid4Birds focuses on creating this habitat during a time of year when flooded habitat is scarce on the landscape and therefore more valuable to waterbirds. However, creating this habitat has real costs for the farmer and so the Foundation provides incentive payments to help offset those costs for farmers interested in providing this quality habitat.
This season the Foundation enrolled six rice growers into Bid4Birds, involving 18 rice fields in the Sacramento Valley, creating approximately 1,500 acres of valuable shoulder season habitat. During site visits, 45 different species of birds were observed and documented utilizing enrolled fields. The most common shorebird species observed were White-faced Ibis, Dunlin, Greater Yellowlegs, and Long-billed Curlews. The variety of species utilizing these fields outlines how creating this shorebird habitat has benefits that extends to a wider range of species. In fact, only 11 of the 45 total documented species were shorebirds. It is also important to note that this type of habitat becomes even more critical during years without much winter or spring time precipitation, like we are experiencing now.
Luke Matthews is the Wildlife Programs Manager for the California Rice Commission