Farming Has Gone to the Birds

Growing rice in California’s central valley to benefit farmers, birds and your plate!

Are Farmers the Last Hope for Migratory Birds?

Eight million birds migrate along the Pacific Flyway each year, including the iconic and magnificent sandhill crane. With 95 percent of wetlands already gone, these birds are relying more and more on farms for their winter homes. But are farmers ready to host them? The Nature Conservancy and its partners are working with many farmers in California’s central valley to make their farms more hospitable for migratory birds—through mulching crops, flooding and more—while keeping their crops in production.

At the Conservancy’s Staten Island property located between San Francisco and Sacramento, conservation-friendly agricultural practices have led to one of the largest concentrations of sandhill cranes—15 percent of the cranes that winter in California.

At our Cosumnes River Preserve east of the Bay area, organic rice fields are flooded in winter to provide habitat for birds. In December, nearly 124,000 birds were already roosting, feeding and settling in—an all-time record.

Working with farmers to create more sustainable agricultural practices supports the local farm economy and migratory birds cruising the Pacific Flyway. So it might be more appropriate to say the birds have gone to the farms!

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