THESE small creatures might be under threat, but what keeps them going is a common link that also keeps the MIA ticking over as well.
Four times as many Australasian Bitterns have been flocking to the area's rice fields compared to the benchmark set by the control sites.
In total 23 birds were sighted (compared to six in the control sites) and successful breeding was recorded in one crop.
Despite the challenging season with little rice being grown, six landholders took part and grew a total of 277 hectares of "bittern friendly rice".
Project manager Anna Wilson said the region's rice fields provided a unique opportunity for the threatened bittern with about 40 per cent of their population utilising rice crops over the summer months.
"Given there's thought to be less than 1500 mature birds, that's quite remarkable," she said.
The main aim of bittern friendly rice is to maximise successful breeding.
To do this, early permanent water is required with a minimum period of 130 to 150 days of inundation.
"Maintaining grassy banks and providing adjacent habitat in channels and dams are part of the incentive and are a favoured place for bitterns to frequent as the season progresses - a great place to look for prey," Mrs Wilson said.
"We have also trialled growing small areas where additional urea was added so that the rice is taller and thicker to encourage early nesting."
Fox baiting is being undertaken across all farms taking part in the project as it's thought chicks and young birds are easy prey for these pests.
Fox baiting is continuing until the end of May to provide additional help to any young birds that are still in the area.
The project is supported by Riverina Local Land Services with funding provided by the federal government's national Landcare program.