BID4BIRDS PROGRAM Practice Requirements

Program Summary

The Bid4Birds program focuses on extending the flooding period on ricelands outside of the growing season for the benefit of waterbirds, particularly shorebirds, whose numbers have declined by over 17 million in the last 50 years. While the standard winter flooding period is beneficial for waterbirds that winter in the Central Valley, shorebirds arrive earlier in the fall and later in the spring when most fields and marshes are dry. Providing flooded habitat in both of these shoulder seasons is critical for healthy shorebird populations. Bid4Birds provides incentive payments for rice farmers to implement shallow flooding on their rice fields (including fallow rice fields) during these critical migration periods.

This program requires participants to meet specific conditions in their fields that provide high quality shorebird habitat. Shorebirds require shallow water depths (mudflat to 4 inches), some plant residue which helps create food (invertebrates) for shorebirds, and a clear field of view to spot predators (little to no standing plant residue).

Key Program Details

Application requirements

  • Contracts: 4 to 12 week commitments
  • Timeline: Between February 15 and April 30.
    • Habitat later in the timeframe is most valuable 
  • Flooding: maximum of 4 inches throughout contract period
  • Post-harvest straw management required - little to no standing plant residue
  • Contracts are ranked on timing, habitat quality, and price

Ineligible Applications

  • Within 5 miles of Sacramento International Airport and Beale Air-force Base (see exclusion area maps below)
  • Fields with tall standing straw or vegetation

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. Ranking criteria include an analysis of potential bird abundance, historic habitat availability, acres of flooding, proximity to existing wildlife areas, and bid cost.

The following items can result in higher scoring bids:

  • Fully incorporated rice straw/vegetation
  • Close proximity to existing wildlife areas/wetlands
  • Providing water at the most valuable times. Below are the time periods when habit needs are the greatest. 
    • In spring: flooding between March 15 - May 1
    • In fall: flooding between July 15 - September 1

The following items can result in lower scoring bids:

  • Poorly incorporated straw/vegetation
  • Baled rice fields
  • Flooding outside of the critical periods. Below are the times when habitat is still needed but less critical. 
    • In spring: flooding before March 15
    • In fall: flooding after September 1

Field Conditions


Required Post-harvest Treatments
A combination of any of the following straw management practices AND an incorporation practice are needed to meet our field condition requirements.
Straw management Incorporation
  • Chop
  • Bale*
  • Disc
  • Chisel
  • Roll
  • Stomp
Ineligible field management
Any of the following field conditions will make your bid ineligible for our program.
  • Uncut standing straw
  • Extensive mats of cut straw or vegetation covering >50% of the field
  • Non-incorporated fields

Note: Fields not planted in rice in the most recent growing season are eligible; however, similar field conditions are required and practices may be necessary to cut and incorporate standing vegetation or weeds.

*Baling fields post-harvest provides lower quality habitat and therefore will be ranked lower than other similar fields that were not baled.

It is not necessary for fields to have a uniformly smooth surface. Some furrows and mounds are acceptable as they create a range of different water depths once the fields are flooded. This is advantageous because different shorebird species have different water depth preferences.

Water Management

This program requires participants to maintain shallow-flooded conditions on the entire enrolled acreage, with at least 60% of the field area flooded, and no more than 4″ deep. Growers should use surface water or groundwater (or a combination of both) to maintain water on their enrolled fields and are required to provide information on water source used.

Field Condition Examples

Excellent Field Conditions

Good 1
Good 3
Good 2

Poor Field Conditions

Poor 1
Poor - too deep and too much uncut stubble
Poor - Too much undecomposed stubble
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