Birds, birdwatchers flock to Iberville for Wood Stork Week

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter
STAKING OUT STORKS...Birdwatchers line up at the recent opening event of “Wood Stork Week” at the South Farms area of Sherburne Wildlife Management Area in Iberville Parish. Among those in attendance were representatives of the National Audubon Society, who expressed interest in establishing a national birding trail here.

Wood storks again put in an appearance at Sherburne Wildlife Management Area to kick off the recent “Wood Stork Week,” as did some 50 birdwatchers and representatives of the Audubon Society, said Iberville Environmental Manager John James Clark.

The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries managed the Saturday morning event at the South Farms area, and the Iberville Parish Welcome Center at Grosse Tete handed out brochures to help draw in a crowd.

“By 7 a.m., the parking lot was full of cars. The bird Watchers were already in position viewing the wood storks,” which stayed during the cool morning before moving into the trees and swamps as the day progressed, he said.

For most of the day, Clark said, Roseate Spoonbills, glossy ibises, black-necked stilts and white egrets stayed active at South Farms.

“Look to the east,” he quoted one birdwatcher as saying. “We have a very cooperative red-shouldered hawk.”

Clark said he talked with representatives of the National Audubon Society about establishing a national birding trail in Iberville Parish and a partnership to promote ecotourism here.

“They were very interested and agreed to follow up with us,” he said.

One in attendance was Melanie Driscoll, director of bird conservation for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative, who leads Audubon's efforts to identify, prioritize, monitor and implement conservation initiatives for Important Bird Areas in Louisiana, Clark said.

Recently, he said, she has spearheaded Audubon's intensive conservation planning for the Atchafalaya River Basin and has led a team of experts in identifying more than 17 million acres of important bird habitats along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast.

Clark said he talked later with someone who had flown over Sherburne to survey bird populations and had reported hundreds of wood storks in treed swamps beyond South Farm Ponds.