A barrier island located on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, Grand Isle isn’t just a first line of defense against storms but also a first stop for birds during their Spring migration north from Latin America. This special coastal environment brings in hundreds of people from across the nation and throughout the world to see these beautiful birds during the first pit-stop on their long journey across the Gulf of Mexico. In previous years, over 160 different species of birds were identified during the three-day Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration.
Louisiana’s coastal wetlands provide vital habitat for these migrating birds as well as those species who live in Louisiana year-round. CWPPRA projects work to restore our coastal wetlands for both birds and people. CWPPRA barrier island restoration projects, like TE-20 and PO-27, are home to beach-nesting birds such as Black Skimmers, Least Terns and Wilson’s Plovers. Marsh creations, like ME-31 and CS-81, provide habitat for rare species of birds such as the Least Bittern and the Black Rail.
At the Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration on April 13th, CWPPRA Outreach discussed coastal issues with passionate birders and Grand Isle locals. Several groups of birders played Wetland Jeopardy and other patrons enjoyed our habitat toss game. We met several educators and representatives of other outreach groups who do similar work to ours and share CWPPRA’s mission. Visitors had a wide array of tour options throughout the day, including guided walks, kayaking trips, and banding demonstrations. As each group returned, they would add all the species they observed to a checklist at the headquarters where we were set up.
Many of us here in Louisiana enjoy our coastal wetlands. From people to beautiful birds, CWPPRA protection and restoration projects work to enhance our wetlands for everyone.
Featured Image is a Summer Tanager. All photos courtesy of Gabe Griffard.
Known to be one of the most easily recognizable species of waterfowl, the mallard duck is majestic, distinctive, and a wintering resident of the bayou state. The mallard is one of the most common ducks in the United States. With great variation between the two mallard genders, drake or male mallards have a bright yellow bill, prominent emerald green head, and white neck-ring, followed by a chestnut colored chest and dark colored rear. The hen or female mallards have a dark colored bill and are a mottled brown color with a dark brown stripe across the eye. Both drake and hen mallards have the characteristic violet-blue speculum with black and white borders. Mallard ducks are a migrating waterfowl species that can be found in Louisiana during winter. Among the dabbling ducks, mallards are one of the latest fall migrants with one of the most extended migration periods, lasting from late summer to early winter. During their migrant stay, mallards are found in agricultural fields, shallow marshes, oak-dominated forested wetlands, and coastal inlets with aquatic vegetation. Louisiana sits in the Mississippi Flyway, North America’s greatest and most heavily-used migration corridor. Louisiana’s coastal wetlands provide habitat for more than 5 million migratory waterfowl, approximately half of the wintering duck population of the Mississippi Flyway. Now, more than ever, restoration and protection of coastal wetlands is critical; if wetlands continue to diminish, Louisiana will no longer be known as “sportsman’s paradise”.
On October 15, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosted the 19th Annual Wild Things Festival at the Southeast Louisiana Refuge Headquarters in Lacombe, La. This exciting family-friendly event gives the community an opportunity to engage in outdoor activities while celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week. This free public event included canoe and pontoon boat tours, hayrides, live animals, wildflower walks, kids activities, bird house building, live music, and a youth wildlife art competition.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act Public Outreach staff was among the 40 exhibitors providing hands-on activities to encourage knowledge of the Louisiana outdoors. In order to accurately portray the importance of aquatic, coastal regions, the CWPPRA staff utilized an ocean character, Sid the Restoration Squid, whose six unique legs each represented a different restoration method. The six restoration methods include barrier island restorations, marsh creations, shoreline protection, hydrologic restoration, freshwater and sediment diversions, and terracing. Each leg consisted of a distinct craft material that would correspond with a restoration method, in which children would assemble and personalize their own squid. Each child’s personal squid was accompanied by an explanation guide of CWPPRA’s efforts to restore, protect, and/or create Louisiana’s wetlands.
In honor of summer officially beginning this week, this Wetland Wednesday focuses on:
Recreation in the Wetlands
One of the many valuable qualities offered by wetlands is recreation. Ecosystems are highly biologically diversified, providing an abundance of species to view or catch. Boating, fishing, bird-watching, photography, or simply enjoying the landscape are all activities which attract greater use of wetlands during summer months. Known as the “Sportsman’s Paradise,” Louisiana wetlands draw a large number of tourists and natives, increasing the ecotourism of the state. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act encourages the public to be opportunistic in using wetlands as a beneficial natural resource while also recognizing their importance and need for protection. While recreationally using wetlands, remember to respect the home of wildlife, including many endangered species.