California’s dairy farms provide important ecosystem benefits that support biodiversity—from manure composting and other practices that promote soil health, to creating habitats for birds and other wildlife. As wetlands have continued to disappear, dairy forage fields have become a favorite nesting place for threatened tricolored blackbirds. By allowing the birds to safely nest in fields, farmers have been helping the birds to reproduce and thrive.
“It’s a small contribution, but we’re going out of our way to do it. We as dairymen do that. We care about the environment and the animals and species that are around us.”
-FRANK HOMEN, MERCED, CA
In 2021, more than 170,000 adult tricolored blackbirds were protected on 11 dairy farms across four counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Similarly, the 2020 season saw an estimated total of 177,000 adult birds. Both the 2020 and 2021 seasons represent a record-high number of tricolored blackbirds being protected on dairy farms. When the partnership began in 2015, only 67,000 tricolors were found on dairies.
"I think it’s important that the tricolors survive, and I’d like to be part of that in some small way."