The Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville, Louisiana presents the Great Louisiana BirdFest, April 13-15, 2018, held on 400 woodland acres along the lovely Bayou Castine. This popular event gives visiting birders a chance to explore many of St. Tammany's most popular birding spots.
For the past 21 years, the Northlake Nature Center has sponsored the Great Louisiana BirdFest during the spring migration. This is the time when numerous migrant bird species come from Mexico and South America across the Gulf of Mexico and pass through south Louisiana on their way to their summer territories.
Birders travel from all corners of the U.S. and from other countries to participate because our area is a prime bird watching location and the Great Louisiana BirdFest is considered one of the premier birding events in the country. Expert birdwatchers and novices alike are welcomed to attend one or more of the available birding trips on foot or via pontoon boat or paddled canoes, as well as the BirdFest Social and/or the photography workshop.
New this year, Northlake Nature Center partners with Canoe and Trail Adventures and the Greater New Orleans chapter of Louisiana Master Naturalists to offer a relaxing and enlightening birding trip--be paddled down the bayou by Louisiana Master Naturalists!
Bringing back the ever-popular photography workshop and rookery photo shoot, native wildlife photographer and artist John Paul Duet will share his techniques for capturing great images of wildlife in their natural settings with emphasis on their behavior and lifecycles. A photo shoot with various photographic equipment and other vital items helpful without spooking wildlife will be demonstrated at the private rookery known as “Bird Island” at Joseph M. Bartholomew Golf Course, which is managed and maintained by the City of New Orleans Department of Parks and Parkways.
The festival includes a return after many years to the beautiful bird sanctuary at Money Hill Plantation near Abita Springs, where a pair of eagles recently hatched two baby eaglets and are teaching them how to fly and catch food from the lakes of the 3,500 acre nature preserve and community. Enjoy coffee and pastries compliments of Money Hill Plantation and the Money Hill Trails Club.
BirdFest also returns to the ever-popular Joyce Wildlife Management Area/ Manchac Swamp to search for songbirds followed by a pontoon boat birding trip into the swamp. Also offered is the unique "Big Branch by Night" in Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, with its endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and night creatures.
Additionally, groups will visit Howze Beach/Madere Marsh, which will likely provide more water bird sightings than other trips, and the exceptional Bogue Chitto River Reserve Habitats trip, which typically has sightings of a large number of species. The 1,786-acre site includes small streams, cypress-tupelo swamps, a hardwood forest, upland forests and a rolling landscape.
Also on the schedule is the illustrious Honey Island Swamp, one of the best birding hotspots on the Northshore, particularly during migration. Containing mixed hardwoods and much swamp habitat, the area is within the Mississippi flyway and is bounded by the West and East Pearl River, making it a particularly good migratory route because birds tend to follow these north/south running rivers as they migrate to their summer homes.
The weekend of birding concludes with the BirdFest Social. Northlake Nature Center volunteers dig into their personal family recipes to create a sampling of Louisiana delicacies while guests view the sunset and shore birds from the cabins overlooking Lake Ponchartrain.
Visit http://northlakenature.org/birdfest/ for information, descriptions of the birding sites, and to register for BirdFest events. Advance registration required.
The Northlake Nature Center (NNC) is a non-profit organization that provides nature related educational programs for school groups, Scouts, and the general public. Visit www.northlakenature.org for information, descriptions of birding sites, and to register for BirdFest events.