Program Summary

The Bid4Birds Program is open for a variety of habitat enhancement opportunities. We are currently assisting with the implementation of the Drought Relief Waterbird Habitat Program through the California Rice Commission with funding from the Department of Water Resources.

The Drought Relief Waterbird Program focuses on protecting migratory waterbirds in the Pacific Flyway by creating more wintering habitat in the Sacramento Valley. In a normal year, the Sacramento Valley has nearly 300,000 acres of surrogate wetland habitats provided by winter flooded rice fields. These flooded rice acres provide critical habitat that support 7-10 million migratory waterfowl and shorebirds each winter. This year we only expect to see 20 percent of those acres flooded through conventional mechanisms. In order to reduce the impacts of drought, this program will provide incentive payments for rice growers that are able to utilize groundwater pumps to flood their rice fields this winter and provide an important source of habitat for our migratory birds.

Key Program Details

  • Flooding period: October 15, 2022 though January 31, 2023.
    • Option 1: 90 day Flood and Maintenance. Payment $135/acre
    • Option 2: 30 day flood with boards-in. Payment $80/acre
  • Water Depth: continuous flooding of 2-8 inches
  • Water Source: Flooding MUST be done with groundwater.
  • Field Treatment: Any combination of the following post-harvest straw treatments will be accepted: Bale, Burn, Chop, No Treatment, Roll, Single Disc or Chisel pass, Stomp
  • Property Access: To ensure compliance, enrolled fields will be monitored with field visits and satellite imagery.

Ineligible Applications

  • Within 5 miles of Sacramento International Airport and Beal Air-force Base (see exclusion area maps below)

Ranking and Scoring Process

All bids will be ranked and scored by the Bid4Birds Habitat Selection Committee, which includes representatives from Audubon California, California Rice Commission, Point Blue Conservation Science, and The Nature Conservancy. This committee will assess bids according to standardized methods including using data on when and where habitat is most needed.


The following types of projects will rank HIGHER:

  • Enrolling planted rice acres
  • Ability to flood for 90 continuous days
  • Applications that are willing to maintain water after February 1, 2023
  • Property is in an area that have less winter flooding during a normal year
  • Operating pumps are at least one mile from a river or stream
  • Property has potential for high bird abundance
  • Property is in close proximity to wildlife areas

The following types of projects will rank LOWER:

  • Enrolling fallow rice acres
  • 30 day flood with boards-in
  • Property is in an area with high rates of winter flooding in a normal year
  • Operating pumps are within one mile from a river or stream
  • Property has potential for low bird abundance
  • Property is not near wildlife areas

Field Conditions

We will accept applications for rice fields that were fallow or planted to rice in the 2022 growing season. However, fields that were planted to rice will receive more ranking point and therefore will be selected first.

Post-Harvest Treatments

We will accept any combination of the following post-harvest treatments for this program: Bale, Burn, Chop, No Treatment, Roll, Single Disc or Chisel pass, Stomp.  Although we will accept light tillage such as a single pass or a chisel or disc, we will not accept heavy tillage. Waste grain is an important food source for waterfowl and deep tillage can bury a significant amount of the grain left after harvest. In order to be considered for this program, do not use heavy tillage prior to flooding.

Water Management

This program offers a few different water management options for participants to select from. Each of the options have different values and can influence your fields being selected.

Option 1: 90 Day Flood and Maintenance. Continuous flooding for at least 90 days between October 15 and March 15. Water depths must be maintained between 2-8 inches. The grower will be able to manage for waterfowl with deeper depths (4-8 inches) or for shorebirds with shallow depths (2-4 inches).

Option 2: 30 Day Flood with Boards-in. Initial flood for Option 2 must start at 8 inches or more. Fields must be fully flooded and maintain water for 30 days with boards-in. This option will not be ranked as highly as Option 1; however, later start dates can increase ranking for 30 Day Flood due to the increased value of habitat after December 1.

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