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Central California Farmer Halts Harvest To Save Baby Tricolored Blackbirds

TIPTON, Calif. (AP) -- A central California farmer is holding off on harvesting his fields until thousands of imperiled tricolored baby blackbirds can fly from their nests.

The Fresno Bee reports Thursday that Frank Mendonsa, owner of a dairy farm south of Tulare, California, was recognized Wednesday by Audubon California and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

About 15,000 tricolored blackbirds are temporarily nesting in fields of triticale silage that Mendonsa is growing for cow feed, the newspaper reported.

The government is paying Mendonsa to voluntarily delay harvesting under a conservation program.

RELATED: California Drought Putting Tricolor Blackbird In Peril

Audubon California reports that in the past six years the population of the native California tricolored blackbird has declined 64 percent.

About 150,000 of the species remain. The baby birds will fledge between now and the beginning of June. Mendonsa will then harvest his crop.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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