Ducks, geese and rice — the next victims of California’s drought?

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The nests of hundreds of thousands of birds and the food for millions more could be imperiled this year because of fewer rice crops in California ? the latest symptom of the state?s historic drought.

Only about 375,000 acres of rice are expected to be planted this year, a 30% decrease from a typical year and the lowest in California since 1991, according to a statement from the California Rice Commission.

In summer, the rice is used as nesting for native mallards and shore birds, said Mark Biddlecomb, director for the western region of Ducks Unlimited, a wetlands conservation group.

In the fall, after the rice is harvested, the fields are flooded and the remaining grain becomes food for up to 7 million ducks and geese in the Sacramento River Valley, he said. If the crop is reduced, the feeding area becomes more concentrated, which makes the population more vulnerable to diseases.

Read more here: LA Times, June 10, 2015

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