CDFW wants comment on the Tricolored Blackbirds listing and Stanislaus Audubon Society responds accordingly

CDFW is currently requesting public comment on a proposal to list the Tricolored Blackbird as a threatened or endangered species. This is your opportunity, as a concerned community member, bird nerd, or environmentalist to speak up for the species!

CDFW will allow public comments on the Tricolored Blackbird's listing proposal until June 1st. Stanislaus Audubon Society's President, Sal Salerno, got his in early. Take a look at what he has to say, and let it inspire you to also take action:  


The Tricolored Blackbird is a species endemic to California that certainly meets the requirements for a protected listing from California Department of Fish and Game.  These birds have been declining at such an alarming rate—80% during the past 70 years—that urgent and comprehensive action is required.

Some of the largest remaining breeding colonies of Tricolored Blackbirds have taken to nesting within the crops of private farms. Often the farmers will harvest the crops before the chicks have fledged, and this causes large-scale destruction of the birds. With protections in place by C.D.F.G., this practice could be mitigated by allowing those farmers to participate in programs in which they are paid to delay harvesting of feed crops until after the blackbirds complete their nesting and fledgling cycles.

The formerly vast wetlands of the San Joaquin Valley have been reduced to 5% of their former abundance.  As a consequence, Tricolored Blackbirds have also taken to nesting among the non-native Himalayan Blackberry bushes found on the edges of farms and ranches.  Often those bushes are taken out in the normal course of crop preparation.  With C.D.F.G. protections in place, however, farmers could be induced to leave those small but significant breeding habitats intact.

Right here in Stanislaus County, there has been extensive planting of thousands of acres of corporately-owned almond orchards. As a result, Tricolored Blackbirds have been losing both foraging and breeding habitats to this unsustainable loss of both grasslands and remnants of wetlands.  Stanislaus Audubon Society has been engaged in the statewide TRBL Survey Report for the past few years, and participants have observed an alarming decrease in both the number of breeding sites and the numbers of breeding blackbirds in our county.

An emergency listing for one breeding season at a time is a stopgap measure that will be subject to the vagaries of politics. If habitat degradation and loss, drought, and other effects of climate change continue without some protections in place, this species may well go extinct in a few decades. We urge the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to list the Tricolored Blackbird as a State Endangered Species.

Salvatore Salerno, president

Stanislaus Audubon Society

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