St. Charles Herald-Guide

Have YOU seen this 'Tweety Pie'?

Staff Report - January 31, 2007

From Henslow’s sparrow to the American woodcock, even Alfred Hitchcock would be impressed at the assortment of birds St. Charles Parish has to offer.

But it's not a Hitchcock film that brings so many of our feathered friends to this little corner of the world - it's the weather.

Now is the perfect time to take count and help gather information about birds that live in and visit the parish.

During the "Great Backyard Bird Count" Feb. 16-19, bird enthusiasts are asked to count birds at any outdoor location and report their findings online or by sending in the numbers to the address at the end of this report.

The count will help the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology gather statistical data on bird populations nationwide.

It's important work, experts say, because what happens to bird populations is a sign of environmental health or distress.

"Birds are like the canary in the coal mine," said Jerry Lisiecki, spokesman for the Audubon Society. "And besides, it's pretty easy work."

All you do is watch your bird feeder or go to a park or take a walk and count the number of birds of each species you see at one time.

"Even little kids can do it," Lisiecki said.

Birds to look for in St. Charles Parish

“O.K., Herald-Guide - we've taken our best shot at coming up with five good birds to look for in southeastern LA for the upcoming bird count,” Patricia Leonard, of the Audubon Society’s office in Washington, D.C., told the Herald-Guide in response to our request for more information on rare birds in our area.

“It was difficult with so many species to choose from. And we didn't want to choose birds that were so obscure you guys stood almost no chance of actually seeing them.

“In the end we went with birds that people could see, though not necessarily in large numbers.

“These are also species of concern from a conservation standpoint, because their populations are declining.

“American Kestrel: though present across the country, numbers are known to be declining due to loss of habitat

“Henslow’s Sparrow: population is declining rapidly; is on Audubon WatchList, estimated pop. 79,000 remaining

“Rusty Blackbird: declining across its range, though common in some localities; on Audubon WatchList, est. 2 million pop.

“Red-headed Woodpecker: declining nationwide; on Audubon WatchList, est. pop. 2.5 million

“American Woodcock: declining, on Audubon WatchList, est. pop. 5 million; a very secretive, nocturnal bird that is difficult to spot

“In some cases these birds may seem fairly commonplace to Louisiana residents, but the species is in trouble in the rest of the country, i.e. Red-headed Woodpecker.

“All these birds are of concern from a conservation standpoint and we need to know more about their distribution in areas like Louisiana where they can still be found. All have been reported in two or more years in GBBC checklists submitted from New Orleans.

“Also: Watch for hummingbirds of any type—it seems more and more are remaining in the southern US instead of their usual haunts in Mexico.

“You can see photos and learn more about these birds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds web site. Go to the online Bird Guide:

Have you seen this bluebird?
Have you seen this bluebird?