This month we also share the dates for upcoming field days and an Earth Day event, an interview with WFA’s Executive Director, some Farm Bill highlights, and two work opportunities.
Enjoy this month’s news from the wild!
Connecting with Wild Neighbors: Gophersnakes
When is your namesake also your dinner? When you’re a Gophersnake! Named for their skills in digging burrows, the Gophersnake’s pest-control services can be a great ally for farmers. And while they feed less frequently than warm-blooded predators, the mere presence of the snake can create a “landscape of fear” and deter some rodents from moving onto the farm. Gophersnakes are also an important food source for nesting raptors like hawks, eagles and owls.
The issue features tips on how to be a good neighbor to Gophersnakes, as well as information on their lifecycle, a farmer’s perspective on living with Gophersnakes, and some fun facts. Did you know that Gophersnakes are non-venomous but will mimic Rattlesnakes to ward off predators? They will rise into an S-shaped body posture, rattle their tail and make a loud hissing sound. They can even flatten their heads into the triangular shape typical of a Rattlesnake.
Save the Dates: Natural Enemies Field Days
Join Wild Farm Alliance out in the field to learn about how to support natural enemies, pollinators, birds and more through the installation of hedgerows and other habitat. Speakers include farmers, researchers, conservationists and other agricultural professionals. We will announce full agendas and registration information in a few weeks.
May 11, 2023 at Ramona Ranch in Ramona, California
June 1, 2023 at Paicines Ranch in Paicines, California
Once Scorned, Birds Are Returning to Farms: A Civil Eats Interview with Jo Ann Baumgartner
WFA’s Executive Director talks about birds on the farm in a recently published interview with Twilight Greenaway of Civil Eats.
"There are so many bird species in decline and so many ways that farmers can help, because agriculture comprises almost 60 percent of the landscape in the U.S. when you count all the grazing lands, and it’s a huge footprint. With farmers’ help, we can do a lot to reduce the biodiversity crisis, and they can benefit from it." - Jo Ann Baumgartner, Wild Farm Alliance
Farm Bill Could Be a Game-Changer for the Most Imperiled U.S. Birds
Once, grasslands including tallgrass, mixed-grass, and shortgrass prairie stretched across most of the central United States, covering hundreds of millions of acres. These grassland ecosystems supported an incredible diversity of life. Now, after years of agricultural expansion that has seen grasslands replaced by farming and other uses, these precious habitats are in danger of disappearing.
Measures in the next farm bill will have the best chance of saving U.S. grassland bird species from extinction. Let's work together to advocate for a farm bill that supports wild farming and biodiversity conservation.
The Next Farm Bill Must Be a Climate Bill
The next farm bill is being written now, and we want to see resources like funding, research, and risk management for farmers and ranchers to implement climate-friendly practices. If you are a farmer, please sign a letter telling Congress that the 2023 Farm Bill must prioritize a climate-resilient future! The letter will be delivered to Congress on Earth Day.
Upcoming Earth Day Event at Grgich Hills Estate
Grgich Hills Estate, a certified organic, regeneratively farmed winery, is hosting their 2023 Earth Day Field Day in American Canyon on April 22, 2023. Grgich Hills Estate will share what they have learned about biodynamic viticulture in a very hands-on, interactive way with the community. Activities include walking tours discussing plant and insect diversity, an inside view of ongoing research about using birds to manage pest issues, Blue Bird box painting and seed planting for the kids, and more. Wild Farm Alliance will be there to share resources and talk about beneficial birds.
Cost is $30 for adults and $20 for kids and includes lunch.
GrizzlyCorps is Accepting '23-24 Fellowship Positions
Applications for GrizzlyCorps 2023-2024 Fellowship positions are now open! Priority Application will be open from February 20th through March 31st and will be followed by a Regular Application which will be open from April 1st through May 15th. Applicants are encouraged to apply early to increase their chance of acceptance into the fellowship. Interested applicants can apply here.
WFA is grateful to have an amazing GrizzlyCorps fellow, Nick Filannino, who is currently serving his second fellowship term with us. Nick is nimble and versatile - he facilitates farmer meetings one day, collects nest box data another and does a natural enemy habitat literature search the third. He's a very valuable part of our team and we are so grateful to have had his expertise and enthusiasm for two years. We know Nick will do great things in his career and we are glad we got to be a part of his journey.
Nest Box at Grgich Hills Estate
Postdoc Researcher Opportunity
Cal Poly Humboldt is seeking a Postdoctoral Researcher with expertise in avian ecology and agroecology to join Matt Johnson’s lab in the Department of Wildlife in Arcata, California. The position is funded for ~2 years (through June 30, 2025; contingent on adequate performance). The postdoctoral researcher will join a collaborative team that includes Wild Farm Alliance. The researchers are assessing the potential for nest boxes to attract songbirds capable of removing insect pests from winegrape vineyards in Napa Valley, California.