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Northlake Nature Center


Sunday, April 9 – 7:00 AM to 10:30 AM                             $25

Get up close and  hands on with birds! A special feature of the Northlake Nature Center trip is that in addition to excellent birding in the varied habitat of the center, a licensed Bird Bander will set up mist nets along one of the trails and capture, measure, weigh, collect other data about the captured birds, and discuss banding them.  Get up close to birds you have only seen through binoculars at the repeated banding event as we go into our third decade of BirdFest!  All proceeds from this trip go to support the mission of the Northlake Nature Center.

This program with Ornithologist Matt Duckworth will demonstrate the techniques of bird capture for banding, research and educational purposes.  Avian anatomy, age grading, and identification will be demonstrated.  An introduction to the role birds play as reservoirs of vector-borne diseases such as West Nile and Eastern Equine encephalitis virus will be discussed.

Matt Duckworth graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a B.S. and M.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Ornithology.  While at USM, Matt conducted research on how Northern Cardinals seasonally regulate the stress hormone corticosterone.  In addition, Matt worked as a lab instructor and research assistant.  Matt has over 1000 hours catching (mist-netting), banding and collecting samples from numerous bird species.  Matt Duckworth is currently a Field Biologist at St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement District.

The Northlake Nature Center, sponsor of the Great Louisiana BirdFest, offers visitors the opportunity to experience three different ecosystems: hardwood forest, pine-hardwood forest and pond-swamp. The ponds in the cypress swamp area are the result of beaver dams and a beaver lodge is visible from one of the center’s raised boardwalks. The 400-acre property along the bank of scenic Bayou Castine, provides a quite varied habitat for birding.

In addition to the outstanding natural features of the site, areas of cultural interest include the site of an archaeological survey yielding evidence of a 700-year-old Acolapissa Native American population and the ruins of a clubhouse for the never-finished golf course.  

We will walk a portion of the several miles of trails that wind through a variety of prime birding habitats including bottom-land hardwood forest, bald cypress swamp, a beaver pond, pine wetland savanna, and mixed pine and hardwood forest.  Extensive areas that formerly were forested with long-leaf pines were decimated several years ago by an infestation of pine-bark beetles.  Although this was a terrible loss, these areas now provide birding habitat formerly not available at the Nature Center site.  This includes areas that are in their natural state of re-growth with heavy brambles and undergrowth as well as more open and grassy sections, managed with controlled burns, in which volunteers have replanted seedling long leaf pines and hardwoods.

Thanks to the Northlake Nature Center’s wide variety of habitats, you are likely to see many varieties of resident and migrant bird species.  Picturesque Bayou Castine is home to many waders and waterfowl.  Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons often grace the waters.  Wood Ducks regularly nest among the cypress trees.  Belted Kingfishers provide an occasional surprise as they skim the bayou for food.

Several species make their home along the banks of Bayou Castine.  Brightly colored Prothonotary Warblers can be seen flitting about.  Overhead, Barred Owls keep watch.  In addition, in the trees, several varieties of woodpeckers, including the wonderful Pileated Woodpecker, make themselves known.  Area residents such as Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays and Chickadees, are abundant.  So are Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which grace Nature Center trees in the spring and summer.  Wild Turkeys are occasionally spotted.

  • Easy to moderate 2-3 miles of trails.

Wintering Birds: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, and White-throated Sparrow.

Residents and breeding birds:: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Wood Duck, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barred Owl, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy and Pileated Woodpecker; Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Fish Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Brown Thrasher, Northern Parula, Pine, and Prothonotary Warbler; Common Yellowthroat, Summer Tanager, Northern Cardinal, and more.

Possible Migrants: Mississippi Kite, Eastern Wood Pewee, Gray Catbird, Warblers, Scarlet Tanager, Buntings and more.


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