September 14, 2023 – Tricolored Blackbird Conservation: Teamwork makes the dream work

Xerónimo Castañeda, Senior Conservation Project Manager, Audubon California

Prior to 2015, Tricolored Blackbird conservation efforts had limited success. Regardless of those successes the species population was continuing a downward trajectory and extinction became a concern. In 2015, Audubon organized a coalition of diverse stakeholders that received a large grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop and implement a new conservation strategy for protecting this iconic species. This award provided our coalition the resources to build off past success and rapidly scale our conservation efforts while also expanding research and piloting new conservation strategies. In 2019, this species was listed as threatened under California’s ESA. The most recent statewide survey in 2022, reported a slight increase in the overall population. A growing interest in Motus technology by the conservation community has opened a door for us to advance our understanding of Tricolored Blackbird use of the landscape throughout their full life cycle.

Xerónimo Castañeda is Senior Conservation Project Manager with Audubon California. His work with Audubon focuses on implementing alternative land management practices of Central Valley wetlands and agricultural operations to provide multiple benefits for people and birds. He also leads Audubon’s Tricolored Blackbird conservation program. A native of California, Xerónimo has lived and birded all along the California coast from Monterey to Arcata, and even had the opportunity to spend a few months on the Farallon Islands. He studied Barn Owls in Napa Valley as part of his master’s thesis, and lead field crews studying passerine migration in coastal Maine and Virginia. Away from work, Xerónimo spends time in his riding bikes, cooking, hanging out with his dog Wren, and of course birding!

7PM via Zoom

August 26, 2023 Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)

Bald Knob, White Co.

Meet at 7:00 a.m. in North Little Rock on the east side of the Other Center parking lot below McDonald’s.  The Other Center is on McCain Blvd. across from McCain Mall.  Take Exit 1 west off US-67/167.  We’ll arrive at Bald Knob NWR around 8:30 a.m. for those who want to meet us there.  Look for the line of cars parked on Coal Chute Road.  This federal refuge is also a National Audubon Important Bird Area.  Expect to see shorebirds, herons, night-herons, egrets, and possibly Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills.  It will be very hot so bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat.  If you have a scope, bring it.  Very little walking will be involved.  

There is no bathroom on-site.  There is a McDonald’s just off Hwy. 67/167 at Bald Knob Exit 55.  Go to for driving directions and more information about the refuge.  GPS:  35.260233, -91.571903