Friday, April 7 – 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM $25
Have you every birded at night? You may be in for a treat. While the number of species you can see at night is much lower than by day, you might have the privilege of hearing or actually getting to see owls up close during their nocturnal hunt. At this time of year owls may respond to calls by naturalists. We may also hear night-herons, rails and Common Nighthawk. You should be able to see bats and hear frogs and other night creatures.
We will start early enough to get you in place to see the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker as they return to their nests. There will be some daylight for birding before it gets dark since birds will still be active as the light fades.
Each year we return to the Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge, a 12,000-acre refuge established in 1994 in order to protect and manage a wetland ecosystem threatened by urban growth on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It includes much of the vital and teeming marshes along the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain from FontainebleauState Park to the city limits of Slidell. The refuge encompasses the habitats and transition zones between the pine savannahs to the north and the shorelines, marshes, and offshore grass beds of the lake to the south. Big Branch offers excellent birding and the refuge is home to numerous Red-cockaded Woodpecker colonies, some of which are in the areas you will bird. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are unique among the woodpeckers in that they only nest in live trees and that one or more of the previous year’s fledglings stick around as helpers during the nesting season.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries cooperatively manage Big Branch Refuge. Under natural conditions Red-cockaded woodpeckers require mature pine trees with red-heart disease, which softens the wood enough for the birds to create their nest holes. To encourage expansion of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker population, refuge biologists provide artificial nest boxes carved into live pines for nesting and roosting cavities.
The trip will be an easy walking and driving tour. Boardwalks and trails provide easy access to the varied habitat.
¨ Van and easy to moderate walk.
Birds we hope to see or hear:
Resident and Breeding Birds: Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons; Wood Duck, Clapper Rail, Common Nighthawk, Great-horned, Screech, and Barred Owls, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Cardinal and more