BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – This is a heavily wooded nature trail that is only a few minutes from downtown New Orleans. And it’s a place where researchers have been studying birds for nearly a decade.
The sun barely peeks through the trees as this wooded nature preserve near New Orleans fills with birdsong, many birds. And that’s what draws these bird enthusiasts and volunteers to the Woodlands Trail on this cool spring morning,
“This is valuable information for tracking bird health and migration across the state, as well as in the United States and beyond, because all of this, the banding data, is uploaded to an international database. “said Katie Brasted of Woodlands Conservancy.
Several bird netting sites are set up along the six-mile nature trail. The nets are almost invisible and it doesn’t take long before a small marsh sparrow snuggles up.
“We did a herbicide treatment here to remove non-native invasive vegetation and reforest with native plants,” Brasted said. “So we’re able to track to see over time if there’s a change in the bird, abundance and diversity making it a healthier habitat.”
Jed Pitre, science teacher at Lycée Thibodaux, leads the volunteers. Each bird is banded, inspected, measured and weighed.
And after a few minutes, the bird flies away.
“We catch a bird, put a ring on it and release it. And someone picks it up somewhere else, which can help us recreate their migration pattern,” Pitre said.
The Cardinals made the most noise. And this one was here before his little leg already carried a metal band.
The birds undergo a health check before being released. Over the past nine years they have banded 1,400 birds here on the forest trail. So far, about 300 of these birds have been recaptured.
“So that tells us they’re site-fidelity. They’re using the same habitat. We think every winter and that’s something that could be important in the conservation of the species,” Pitre said.
The Woodlands Trail provides natural habitat just eight miles from downtown New Orleans.
“Besides being a wildlife area. It also absorbs rainwater, acts as a windbreak. So it performs many functions for the community, keeps our temperatures lower,” Brasted said.
And the data collected from these birds can provide clues about the future of this urban forest.
To find out more about the Sentier des bois, click on here.
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