Nowhere to Land
Picture it. You're traveling cross-country. You're tired. Hungry. Just looking for a warm meal, hot shower and a soft pillow to rest your head. But everywhere you look: "Closed." Every gas station, boarded up. Every hotel, shuttered.
This is what it will be like for millions of birds flying south now that use California's Central Valley as a pit stop on their fall migration down to South America, or a winter home. Scientists predict this fall will be one of the largest Pacific Flyway bird migrations due to a wet spring and above average breeding conditions in the north. But with more than 90% of wetlands dedicated to farms and much of the remainder dried up due to one of the most severe droughts in California history, we estimate birds will find only about 15% of habitat than what's typically available . The question remains, where will these birds go? (And how can you help?)
The Answer: Pop-up Habitats
We're turning rice fields into Pop-up Habitats. Combining crowd-sourced data from birdwatchers using eBird, hard science, NASA satellites and economic incentives, we're working with farmers to flood fields precisely when and where birds need it most. The birds have a place to rest, relax and eat on their journey, and farmers have the water they need for crops. It's called BirdReturns. So how does it work?
Rent vs. Buy
We invest in the best quality habitat for short periods of time to maximize every drop of water. The innovation behind renting the land rather than buying it permanently is where economics takes flight. Farmers competitively bid with their neighbors to participate, yielding the best conservation outcome at the lowest price.
And it's working. This past year, we created 10,000 acres of Pop-up Habitats and found 30% more shorebirds on BirdReturns fields.
Provide Seed Funding
We need your help to scale up, now more than ever. Our goal is to create a million acres of habitat in California, but we can't do it alone. Help create more Pop-up Habitats, or become part of our eBirder crew and record birds you see. Every little bit counts.
Fund a Pop-up Habitat