We welcome you to southeast Louisiana where the pace of life is like the flow of the bayou – slow and steady. The tranquil and serene landscape here is not like most imagine, …and yet maybe it is. Thousands of acres of bald cypress-water tupelo swamp, fresh and salt-water marshes, and barrier island beaches extend as far as the eye can see. It is the productive nature of these habitats, our geography, and the influence of the mighty Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers that make this part of Louisiana – the sportsman paradise.
Our untold story … or one of America’s best kept secrets … are the accounts that can be told about the vast natural resources of Barataria-Terrebonne, particularly those that involve our feathered friends.
These natural resources, supported by the many different habitats found throughout southeast Louisiana are demonstrated in part by the millions of birds that spend their life here.
Do you know that approximately 400 different species of birds are known to have occurred in the Barataria-Terrebonne system? Of this number, it is thought that nearly 200 species are considered common to abundant at least during part of the year. Sixty-four of these species are considered residents – year round inhabitants of southeast Louisiana.
Read on and learn of the bountifulness of coastal Louisiana, its natural places, and why this area is so important to many species of birds – not only those that reside here but also to the many migrants that pass through during different times of the year.
This website is dedicated to providing information about the efforts underway to address birds and birding. We strive to provide factual information to those interested about Barataria-Terrebonne’s avian resource. (BTNEP Action Plan: EM 15. Protection of Habitat for Migratory and Resident Birds)
Where We Lie on the Face of the Earth
From a national perspective, when places such as Chesapeake Bay or the Florida Everglades are mentioned, certain images are conjured in the mind of what these places are like. Some may consider these places to be beautiful, some mysterious, and others may see them as controversial because of the environmental, social, and cultural problems that they face. But all would know them as national treasures. Now mention Louisiana’s Barataria and Terrebonne basins, and most assuredly the images would not reflect the distinctive character or cultural diversity, and ecological importance of one of America’s best kept secrets.
While people from south Louisiana are of a unique culture, a mixture of peoples from all over the world, they too may not know of the importance of Barataria–Terrebonne’s natural places. Not only is it one of America’s best kept secrets, it is nearly without rival from an ecological and economic perspective – surely a national treasure.
For those not familiar with this area, the Barataria–Terrebonne basins lie in south central Louisiana and are essentially bounded by two great river systems, the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya. Both basins are considered part of the Mississippi River Deltaic Plain that has been historically built and nourished as part of the natural deltaic process of the meandering of the Mississippi River for thousands of years. Barataria–Terrebonne encompasses an area of over four million acres of marshes and swamp, farms and timberlands, and bays and bayous that are rich almost beyond imagination in natural resources.
Geographic position, or where we lie on the face of the earth may be more significant than the variety and productive nature of our habitats in explaining the popularity of this region. Many birds that frequent southeast Louisiana are considered Nearctic Neotropical migrants spending part of their life in Barataria-Terrebonne. The location of this region along the central gulf coast provides a “jumping off point” for many migrants crossing the gulf on their way south during winter migration and “returning point” for those coming back in the spring. Additionally, temperate migrants in search of milder winter climates forage in Barataria-Terrebonne’s rich productive habitats during the colder months.
The arrows represent in general the path followed by many Nearctic Neotropical migratory birds during their spring and fall migrations. In fact, migratory birds on their way back from Central and South America in the spring cross the Gulf of Mexico landing anywhere from east Texas to Florida. The same is true for fall migration as well. There is no one place where all birds flock before they begin their journey south across the Gulf of Mexico. Many places along the gulf coast serve as “jumping off points”.