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 Fall 2020 Program Details
- Contracts are 4-8 week commitments
- Timeline August 15 - October 15, 2020
- Flooding with a maximum of 4" throughout contract period
- Post-harvest straw management required
- 75 acres minimum
- Contracts are ranked based on bid price and habitat quality
- Within 5 miles of Sacramento International Airport and Beal Air-force Base
- Within 3 miles of a major population center (due to mosquito concerns)
- Unmanaged fields with tall standing straw or vegetation
|Eligibility||Common Post-Harvest Treatments|
|Ineligible||Uncut standing straw|
|Ineligible||Extensive mats of cut straw or vegetation covering >50% of the field|
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.
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.
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
- Ability to start flooding early (prior to September 1)
- Longer flood duration (Greater than 6 weeks)
The following items can result in lower scoring bids:
- Poorly incorporated straw
- Baled fields
- Short flood duration (Less than 5 weeks)
- Late fall flooding (after September 15)