California Farmer Honored for Blackbird Protection

Kelly MarshallAg Group, Conservation, Dairy, environment

blackbirdA dairy farmer from Tipton, California was recognized for his efforts to protect the Tricolored Blackbird in his state.  

Frank Mendonsa is the President of Western United Dairymen and the owner of the silage fields that became a temporary nesting grounds for the emergency-listed birds.  Mendonsa delayed his harvest to allow the birds to raise their young. “When the birds first appeared on my property this spring, I didn’t know what kind they were,” said Mendonsa. “Once it was pointed out to me how few of these birds are left in the world and how many were on my property, I was very moved. I could see how much they needed my help and protection to build back their populations, so I have taken it upon myself to ensure their safety on this farm.”

Conservation partners working with Mendonsa to find win-win solutions for farmers and the imperiled birds include Audubon California, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), California Farm Bureau, Dairy Cares, Sustainable Conservation, and Western United Dairymen.

Entering its third year, NRCS and Audubon California have helped farmers who have Tricolored Blackbirds nesting in their fields by providing incentive payments to delay harvest until the young birds have fledged. Over the past three years, farmers’ participation in this initiative has resulted in nesting success for tens of thousands of birds. Currently, there are five contracts with dairy farmers that have nesting colonies in their fields.