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Aid available for farmers with nesting blackbirds

Farmers who have tricolored blackbirds nesting in their fields could be eligible for federal assistance for delaying their harvests so that the birds can fledge their young.

DAVIS, Calif. — Farmers who have tricolored blackbirds nesting in their fields may be eligible for federal funding to delay their harvesting and allow the birds 15 days to fledge their young, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced.

Each spring, the blackbirds build large colonies of nests in the Central Valley areas that were once marshy ecosystems and are now cropland, the NRCS explained in a news release. About 43 percent of the birds now use silage crops such as triticale and wheat to build their nests, according to the release.

Harvests before the birds had a chance to fledge have resulted in declines in the birds, which are listed by the state and federal governments as a species of concern. After farmers agreed last year to delay their harvests, some 65,000 breeding birds were saved, according to the NRCS.

Producers must meet certain requirements to be eligible for financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. For information, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/ca/home/ .



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