The 24th Great Louisiana BirdFest is tentatively scheduled for April 1-5, 2021 with Pre-BirdFest events starting in March and a Post-BirdFest event during Fall Migration. Various events will be held over the five days in April.
**ALL ACTIVITIES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE OR CANCELLATION DUE TO COVID-19. Activities below were planned for the 2020 festival, which was cancelled.
For the past 23 years, the Northlake Nature Center (NNC) 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 the 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 as well as novices are welcomed to attend one or more of the available birding trips via foot, pontoon boat, or paddled canoes, the social, and/or the photography workshop.
Tentatively, two Sunset Eagles Nest Boat Tours, with Captain Billy’s Cajun Man’s Swamp Tours and Adventures, will tour the Atchafalaya Basin’s 10 eagle nests. One event will be for photographers in a Pre-BirdFest event and one for birders during BirdFest. Another tentative event is a Pre-BirdFest event called Introduction to Birding, Binoculars and Bird Guides with Jane Patterson, President of Baton Rouge Audubon Society, to get new birders acclimated to birding early.
The group will visit a private property to indulge in an afternoon Backyard Garden Tea and Optional Paddle through a mini Bellingrath Garden of azaleas. The estate sits on Bayou Lacombe and features a trail network blazed through mature multiple varieties of azaleas. Woodland and water birds are residents, and you are likely see early migrants and nesting birds as well. Optional canoes are available to paddle the bayou.
NNC has added a Rookery birding trip 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.
BirdFest returns to the ever-popular Joyce Wildlife Management Area/ Manchac Swamp to look for songbirds at the edge of the Wildlife Management Area, followed by a pontoon boat birding trip into the swamp. NNC also offers the unique "Big Branch by Night" in the Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge with its endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and night creatures. The group will revisit a Bogue Chitto River Reserve Habitats. The trip 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 Rivers, 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 Center concludes a weekend of birding with the BirdFest Social. While it truly is a social with Northlake Nature Center volunteers digging into their personal family recipes to create a sampling of Louisiana delicacies, it will be a great birdwatching event as well, with a view of sunset from the cabins overlooking Lake Pontchartrain. A tasty meal with great birding! Truly a special treat for all to enjoy.
A Sunset Manchac Swamp pontoon boat trip may also be offered.
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.
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