The Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville, Louisiana presents the Great Louisiana BirdFest, April 3-6, 2020, held on 400 woodland acres along the lovely Bayou Castine and other areas in the region, as announced by the NNC in early 2020. This popular event gives visiting birders a chance to explore many of St. Tammany's most popular birding spots. Various events will be held over four days; trips and activities are 6:15am-9pm Friday, 7am-6pm Saturday, 7am-7:30pm Sunday and 1-7pm Monday.
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 http://northlakenature.org/birdfest/ for information, descriptions of the birding sites, and to register for BirdFest events. Advance registration required.
For the past 24 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 birding trips on foot or via pontoon boat or paddled canoes. Partners such as Canoe and Trail Adventures and the Greater New Orleans chapter of Louisiana Master Naturalists offer relaxing and enlightening birding trips, paddling down the bayou.
Another event of BirdFest is a photography workshop and rookery photo shoot with native wildlife photographer and artist John Paul Duet, who shares techniques for capturing great images of wildlife in their natural settings with emphasis on their behavior and lifecycles. Details on the activity including location will be announced as the event nears.
Past festivals have featured a trip to the bird sanctuary at Money Hill Plantation near Abita Springs to see baby eaglets learn to fly and catch food from the lakes of the 3,500 acre nature preserve and community. Another activity was a trip to Joyce Wildlife Management Area/ Manchac Swamp that featured a pontoon boat birding trip into the swamp and a nighttime trip in Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, with its endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and night creatures.
Groups have visited Howze Beach/Madere Marsh, Bogue Chitto River Reserve Habitats, and the 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 Pontchartrain.
1-6 by John Paul Duet, photo workshop presenter, at “Bird Island” at Joseph M. Bartholomew Golf Course, which is managed and maintained by the City of New Orleans Department of Parks and Parkways.
1 Egret flying
3 Egret doing mating dance
4 Bald eagle
5 Cormorants over blue heron nesting
6 Egrets dancing
7-9 (birdwatching, trail entrance, woodpecker) courtesy of LouisianaNorthshore.com