California is home to 95% of all Tricolored blackbirds in the world, which are listed as a state species of special concern.
Due primarily to losses in native wetland habitat, Tricolored Blackbirds have been steadily declining for a century. Current population estimates are 250,000 birds, but it is believed the population once numbered in the millions.
Twice, the tricolor has been petitioned for listing at the state and federal levels, first in 1994 and then again in 2004. As a result of the pressure for listing and in the face of a dramatic population decline, a cooperative working group of industry, conservation, and wildlife organizations formed to proactively intervene to prevent the need for listing.
A New Breed of Species Protection
Photo courtesy of William Hamilton
As part of a diverse alliance of environmental, agricultural and government leaders, Sustainable Conservation authored a groundbreaking Conservation Plan to guide the recovery of the species. The Plan lays out a comprehensive strategy to boost populations through long-term conservation planning and short-term action-oriented intervention.
The Plan outlines goals and tasks for recovery oriented activities in the areas of conservation, research, data management, and outreach. A signed Memorandum of Agreement implementing the Conservation Plan demonstrates the highest level of commitment and support from the Working Group's 16 stakeholder members.
The preventive efforts outlined in the Plan preserve management options, minimize recovery costs and reduce the potential for restrictive land use policies. In addition, as the threats to the Tricolored blackbird are reduced, focus can shift to other California species in more in need of state and federal protective measures.
The alliance and Conservation Plan, ultimately, help promote a new paradigm of species recovery - one that focuses on cooperative conservation benefiting Tricolors, farmers, wildlife agencies and conservation organizations.
Click here to download a copy of the Tricolored blackbird Conservation Plan.