One of the best known and most recognizable functions of wetlands is to provide a habitat for birds and other species. While visiting a wetland, you are likely to see a range of waterfowl activity. The value wetlands provide to a bird species greatly depends on water availability, depth, and quality; the availability of food and shelter; and the presence of predators. The presence of surface water and the duration and timing of flooding attracts different bird species.
The state of Louisiana lies in the Mississippi Flyway, a migratory bird route that generally follows the Mississippi River. This migration corridor is the greatest and most heavily-used in North America. Providing habitat to more than 5 million migratory waterfowl, Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are of great importance to these birds and the people who enjoy observing and hunting them. It is vital to waterfowl that we protect and restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands to continue providing a healthy habitat for birds that are migrating. If we continue to lose these precious wetlands, Louisiana will lose its iconic role as “Sportsman’s Paradise” and waterfowl populations will suffer.
World Migratory Bird Day was initiated over ten years ago as a way to raise global awareness for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. Each year, people around the world organize events, such as bird festivals, exhibitions, and bird-watching excursions to celebrate this day. All activities celebrating World Migratory Bird Day are tied together by a common theme. World Migratory Bird Day 2017 was officially celebrated on Saturday, May 13 with the theme “Their Future is Our Future,” which shed light on the interdependence between people, nature, and migratory animals — particularly birds. The goal of this year’s campaign is to raise awareness of the need for sustainable management of natural resources, including wetlands, demonstrating that bird conservation is crucial for the future of humanity.
Among the wetland attributes society aims to protect and restore are those that benefit wildlife, such as migratory birds. One of the best known functions of wetlands is to provide a habitat for birds to breed, nest, and rear their young. This natural resource is used for drinking water, feeding, shelter, and social interactions. Wetland vegetation provides protection for migratory birds from predators and destructive weather. The presence of an adequate shelter is often crucial to the survival of migratory birds.
The value of a wetland varies for each bird species depending on the amount of surface water, amount of moist soils present, and the duration of flooding. Other factors that commonly affect the value of wetlands to a specific bird species are availability of food and shelter and the presence or absence of predators within the wetland. Availability of water influences whether migratory birds will be present, how the birds will interact with the wetland, and which species will be present. Species of migratory birds may spend the winter months in the Southern United States using the wetlands for food and nutrients to sustain them for their journey north. Many migratory birds are highly dependent on wetlands during the migration and breeding seasons. Habitat loss in breeding areas means population loss for most wetland dependent birds.
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”.
In honor of October 3rd, World Habitat Day, this Wetland Wednesday will discuss wetlands as a habitat!
Louisiana wetlands are essential in providing habitats for wildlife. For some wildlife, the only fitting habitat that adequately provides all needs and resources to survive are wetlands. Different types of wildlife rely upon different types of wetland habitats such as swamp, freshwater marsh, intermediate marsh, brackish marsh and salt marsh. The Great Egret and Great Blue Heron can be found in freshwater marshes along with wood ducks, while Brown Pelicans, the state bird of Louisiana, are most frequently found in intermediate marshes. Seasonal migration pathways also rely heavily upon the sustainability of wetland habitats. Louisiana’s coast provides a critical habitat and resting point for waterfowl in route along the Mississippi Flyway during migration; about 40% of all North American migrating waterfowl and shorebirds use this route. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act continues to work to enhance, restore, and protect these imperative habitats for the nation’s wildlife!
Did you know:
CWPPRA has protected, created, or restored approximately 96,806 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act has funded coastal restoration projects for 26 years. Presently, CWPPRA has 153 total active projects, 108 completed projects, 17 active construction projects, 23 projects currently in Engineering and Design and has enhanced more than 355,647 acres of wetlands . These projects provide for the long-term conservation of wetlands and dependent fish and wildlife populations. Projects funded by CWPPRA are cost-effective ways of restoring, protecting, and enhancing coastal wetlands. CWPPRA has a proven track record of superior coastal restoration science and monitoring technique in Louisiana. The success of the CWPPRA program has been essential in providing critical ecosystem stabilization along Louisiana’s coast and has provided pioneering solutions for land loss.
Visit CWPPRA’s website for more information!
In honor of National Estuaries Week, this week’s Wetland Wednesday focuses on
An estuary is an ecosystem comprised of both the biological and physical environment, commonly located where a river meets the sea. Estuaries are known to be inhabited by an array of plant and animal species that have adapted to brackish water—a mixture between freshwater draining from inland and salt water. Estuaries have one of the highest productivity rates among ecosystems in the world; they provide an abundance of food and shelter as well as breeding and migration locations. Estuaries also provide great access for successful recreational activities such as fishing. Celebrate National Estuaries Week by aiming to keep your estuary areas clean of trash for others to enjoy as well as a healthy environment for wildlife and vegetation!
Did you know:
Freshwater habitats make up only 1% of the planet’s surface but are host to 1/3 of all known vertebrates and nearly 10% of all known animal species.
Usually located in close proximity to an intermediate marsh, freshwater marshes commonly occur adjacent to coastal bays. Freshwater marshes are of the most productive freshwater habitats and are essential to the survival of many wildlife populations ranging from important nursery needs to supporting large numbers of wintering waterfowl. Freshwater marshes have the greatest plant diversity and highest organic matter content of any marsh type. The heavy demand for freshwater has become outweighed by its availability due to salt water intrusion. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act aims to restore the natural conditions of water quality by implementing hydrologic restoration projects to combat saltwater intrusion.