H-CENTRAL VALLEY

Jul 30, 2012 11:34 AM by Associated Press

Farmers delay harvests to protect blackbirds

TULARE, Calif. (AP) - California farmers have delayed harvests to protect flocks of rare tricolored blackbirds nesting in their fields.

The Fresno Bee says four San Joaquin Valley dairy farmers this year held off harvests to protect more than 20 percent of the tricolored blackbird's global population.

There are 260,000 tricolored blackbirds left worldwide.

The federal government has spent $100,000 to help farmers replace the feed.

Rather than environmental lawsuits, it was a voluntary collaboration that saved the birds and kept dairy farms in business.

When farmers spot a breeding colony, they can notify the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which has biologists to track the birds. The agency also provides financial assistance so farmers can delay the harvest.

The birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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