The Nature Conservancy is partnering with the California Ricelands Waterbird Foundation and the Migratory Bird Conservation Parnership on a Fall 2020 waterbird habitat enhancement program called Bid4Birds, which is a partner program to BirdReturns. (Bid4Birds is not connected with the on-farm, multi-benefit recharge project TNC is running in coordination with Colusa Groundwater Authority in Colusa County.)
The Bid4Birds program focuses on extending flooding period on ricelands outside of the growing season for the benefit of waterbirds, particularly shorebirds. While the standard winter flooding period is beneficial for many waterbirds migrating along the Pacific Flyway, shorebirds arrive earlier in the fall and into the spring when most fields and marshes are dry. Providing flooded habitat when it is most scarce is crucial in both of these seasons.
The Bid4Birds program provides incentive payments for rice farmers to implement shallow flooding on their rice or fallow fields during these critical migration periods. Growers apply to be selected for this program through an auction in which they submit bids based on their own assessment of their costs to provide this habitat. Growers will submit bids through the Bid4Birds page on the Foundation website.