On the Wing
Program provides “pop-up” habitat for migratory birds.
Ecologist Greg Golet surveys the rice fields that double as temporary wetlands for millions of migratory birds in the Sacramento Valley.
A flock of dunlin, small shorebirds that migrate in large and often striking formations, lifts off from a flooded rice field in Colusa, California.
Doug Thomas was one of 32 California rice farmers who delayed draining certain fields this spring to provide wetlands for migratory birds.
Farmers began growing rice here in the early 1900s, and both domestic and global demand has progres-sively pushed rice production to half a million acres in the Central Valley today.
Just a few inches of water in rice fields can be a lifesaver for waterfowl and shorebirds passing through the Sacramento Valley.
As many as 20,000 dunlin at a time flocked to the temporary wetlands created by the Conservancy’s BirdReturns program this spring.