The Birds of Barataria- Terrebonne

Approximately 400 species of birds are known to have occurred in Barataria-Terrebonne.

Over 60 different species are considered resident inhabitants of southeast Louisiana while 185 different species are migrants, returning each year.

Birds can be grouped based on feeding and habitat requirements, migratory patterns, and size.

Examples of bird groups common to southeast Louisiana are:

  • waterfowl
  • shorebirds
  • wading birds
  • songbirds
  • raptors

Birds are also grouped as migratory or residents.

Residents are those birds that spend their entire life in a local geographic area or region while migratory birds are those that spend their breeding season in one region and their winters in another.

Red Knot birds

Photo Credit: Barbara Keeler

Population Declines for Many Species

In recent years, spring has grown quieter and the fall skies emptier. The reason – serious population decline for many bird species. Data collected over the last several decades have shown significant population declines for many migratory bird species. The number of birds detected by radar crossing the Gulf of Mexico each year decreased by half within twenty years.

There are many reasons for these declines:

• Habitat loss
• Collison with tall structures and reflective windows
• Predation from cats
• Introduction of competing exotics birds
• Natural mortality from disease

Birds have a greater value than the beauty that they bring to our lives each year.

Birds play an important ecological role. They help to protect our crops and forests by eating insects and feeding their young with foliage-devouring caterpillars. Many plants depend on birds for seed dispersal and pollination. Birds also serve as modern-day “miners-canaries”. Their sensitivity to changes in climate, habitat structure, and toxins warn us of environmental dangers. The economic contribution from hunting, fishing, and ecotourism is part of an industry that is worth over $100 billion annually in the United States alone. For these reasons, it is imperative that we begin working together now to ensure that we are left with more than just pictures and drawings of what once was.

Click here for the Official Louisiana State Bird List.

Image: Natalie Waters