Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

LABO volunteer, Eric Liffman, teaching local kids how to mimic Eastern Screech Owl calls at Bluebonnet Swamp. Photo by John Hartgerink.

Bluebonnet Swamp is a 103-hectare nature preserve owned and managed by BREC within the city limits of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Bluebonnet Swamp is dominated by an upland beech-magnolia forest adjacent to a large cypress-tupelo swamp. Although stunningly beautiful, Bluebonnet Swamp sustained severe damage during hurricane Gustav accelerating the proliferation of Chinese privet, an invasive woody shrub. Many species of birds rely on Bluebonnet Swamp for breeding, wintering and as an important migratory stopover site within the urban sprawl of Baton Rouge. Bluebonnet Swamp's proximity to Louisiana State University has provided LABO the opportunity to train numerous undergraduate and graduate students in contemporary bird monitoring techniques.

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Palmetto Island State Park

LABO collaborator, Dr. Scott Duke-Sylvester, showing station visitors a banded Red-bellied Woodpecker at Palmetto Island State Park. Photo by Erik Johnson.

Palmetto Island is a 1,299-acre protected area near the town of Abbeville, Louisiana. Palmetto Island is owned and managed by the Louisiana Office of State Parks and hosts expansive lowland palmetto-hardwood and cypress-tupelo forests, providing refuge for a diversity of migrant and resident bird species. Unlike Bluebonnet, Palmetto Island has not sustained as much hurricane damage, does not reside within the interface of a large metropolitan area and has fewer invasive plants, thereby providing an important point of comparison with LABO's bird community. Palmetto Island's close proximity to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has provided the opportunity for LABO to train many students in the ornithological skills necessary to be effective biologists.

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Woodlands Conservancy

LABO Primary Banders, Erik Johnson and Don Norman, teaching volunteers the finer points of aging birds at Woodlands Conservancy.

Woodlands Conservancy is a local land trust that partnered with Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) who provided funding support to establish and operate two bird monitoring stations within forested wetlands in the Greater New Orleans area: one at Woodlands Trail in Belle Chasse and one at Delacroix Preserve in English Turn/Lower Coast Algiers. The Woodlands Conservancy stations focus on studying bird usage of healthy forested wetland areas in comparison to areas that are undergoing native plant restoration following intensive hurricane damage from Katrina and Gustav and subsequent invasive species proliferation. Data from Woodlands Conservancy will further LABO's goal of measuring bird demographics at large landscape levels, support training for students and provide research opportunities for universities in the New Orleans area.

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Sam Houston Jones State Park

Banders processing birds at the station located at the Red Trail parking lot. Photo by Erik Johnson.

This, our newest station, was established by Irvin Louque and Professor Eddie Lyons in October 2015. The park offers an interesting mix of pine and swamp forests, offers a unique mix of bird species that include Prothonotary Warblers and Brown-headed Nuthatches. Its proximity to Lake Charles offers training and birding opportunities for local Master Naturalists, McNeese State University Students, and Gulf Coast Bird Club members.

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Thornwell Rice Complex

In the vast agricultural lands near Lake Charles, Louisiana, Snowy Egret Enterprises organizes the annual Yellow Rails and Rice Festival, during which LABO primary banders offer a banding workshop to teach advanced aging techniques and provide a unique opportunity to learn about several species of rails. LABO banders also provide banding demonstrations for festival goers, during which volunteers are instrumental in catching Yellow Rails in addition to excellent numbers of Soras, Virginia Rails, and various species of wet-grass songbirds. This work provides a rare glimpse into the life history of the Yellow Rail, one of North America's most secretive and least studied birds, in a landscape where some of the highest numbers of Yellow Rails away from the breeding season have ever been recorded.

LABO primary bander, Dan Mooney, with a banded Yellow Rail during the Yellow Rails and Rice Festival near Thornwell. Photo by Erik Johnson. Sora captured during the Yellow Rails and Rice Festival near Thornwell. Photo by Erik Johnson.

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