Annual winter bird count set at Jean Lafitte park

MARRERO Park rangers, scientists and volunteers will meet for the annual Barataria Winter Bird Count on Saturday at the Barataria Preserve of Jean Lafitte National Park, 6588 Barataria Blvd.

Teams will survey swamps and marshes and record species and numbers of birds seen and heard.

Birders of all skill levels can participate; beginners will team with experienced birders.

Also, experienced canoeists are also needed to inventory waterways in the marsh.

The schedule for the bird count is as follows:

6 a.m. to 8 a.m. : Daytime participants check in at the Barataria Preserve Environmental Education Complex.

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. : Daytime bird count.

4 P.m. to 6 p.m. : Data exchange and socializing at the Environmental Education Complex.

6 P.m. to 8 p.m.: Owl survey.

Participants can sign up for the daytime bird count, the evening owl survey or both.

Birders 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult, and canoeists are asked to bring their own canoes if possible.

Bird count leader David Fox, the park’s biological sciences technician, suggests that participants bring binoculars, field guide, pencils/pens, lunch, water bottle, and a cellphone.

Knee-high rubber boots may be useful, as may sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent and hats. Owl survey participants should bring a flashlight.

“The ecosystems of coastal Louisiana are experiencing rapid change, so we expect that there will be changes in numbers and species of birds in the preserve,” Fox said. “Data that volunteers collect during this winter count will provide important information for management decisions at the preserve and contribute to our knowledge of local, regional, and national trends in bird populations.

“This count will kick off bird monitoring efforts that will go on for years at the preserve. This is serious science, but it will also be great fun.”

The Barataria Preserve contains 23,000 acres of forest, bald cypress swamp, and marsh, and is home to alligators, egrets, deer and other delta species.

The preserve is managed by the National Park Service as part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.

Registration for Saturday’s event is required and the deadline is Friday. Call (504) 689-3690, Ext. 10 or go to http://www.nps.gov/jela/barataria-bird-count.htm to register.