San Francisco, Calif. – Responding to an alarming drop in the rare bird’s numbers, the California Fish and Game Commission today advanced the consideration of the Tricolored Blackbird as candidate for protection under the California Endangered Species Act. The decision comes by the Commission comes after a statewide survey completed last year showing a 44 percent decline in Tricolored Blackbirds since 2011.
“The Fish and Game Commission made the right decision today,” said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California. “We are pleased that this consideration triggers protections for this struggling species. We are committed to working closely with our partners at government agencies like the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Natural Resource Conservation Service, as well as agricultural groups like Dairy Cares, to save this iconic species from extinction.”
The petition to list the Tricolored Blackbird was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity. The Center has also petitioned to list the bird under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
The Tricolored Blackbird, which once numbered in the millions, lives almost entirely in California, and has long been of concern to conservationists. The loss of 90 percent of its historic habitat is likely the main cause of its decline. A recent survey conducted by UC Davis with the support of Audubon California and the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife counted 145,000 Tricolored Blackbirds remaining in California, down from 260,000 in 2011.
In recent years, Audubon California has supported efforts by the Natural Resources Conservation Service to create agreements with dairy farmers to delay harvests to allow the young birds to fledge. These agreements with farmers have saved many thousands of Tricolored Blackbirds, with 67,000 birds this year alone.
Because of the loss of their traditional wetland habitat, Tricolored Blackbirds often create their huge colonies on dairy farm wheat fields. This puts them at risk when the farmer needs to harvest the field before the young birds have fledged.
“While this ruling adds additional protections for the species, the real, on-the-ground solutions will be found in partnerships with landowners, conservation organizations, scientists and industry,” said McCormack.
For photographs and video of Tricolored Blackbirds are available, call (415)644-4606.
About Audubon California
Audubon California is building a better future for California by bringing people together to appreciate, enjoy and protect our spectacular outdoor treasures. Audubon California is a field program of Audubon, which has more than 60,000 members in California and an affiliated 48 local chapters dedicated to protecting birds, wildlife and the habitats that support them.
More information is available at www.ca.audubon.org.