As I walked out my front door this morning, a cool breeze startled me out of my morning stupor, well hello, fall. Two thoughts came into my mind as I strolled to my vehicle, This morning is the perfect excuse to indulge in a pumpkin spice latte – yes I’m one of those ‘pumpkin everything’ in the fall kind of gals, I admit it – and man, I wish I could go birding this morning. The Northern Mockingbird (NOMO) I passed along the way did a spot on mimic of a Mississippi Kite (MIKI),“phee-pheew!” Nice job NOMO, but summer has left us and so have the MIKI’s!
Fall migration brings a different kind of birding. It’s slower, quieter…harder. Some male species are no longer gift-wrapped in their “look at me, I’m pretty and unmistakable in my breeding plumage” attire. Instead, they’ve molted their fancy feathers and traded them for a more drab, you better get a good look, kind of costume. And let’s not forget to throw immature and female birds into the mix also!
Trick or treat!
The month of October offers birders another treat, the Yellow Rails and Rice Festival! That’s right, a festival dedicated to the elusive, seldom seen, Yellow Rail. The Yellow Rail is the second-smallest rail in North America and it winters in drier freshwater and brackish marshes and rice fields along the Gulf Coast and southern Atlantic states. This festival gives birders the best chance they’ll ever get at checking this bird off their life list! The event aims to “educate the public about how important working wetlands such as rice crops are to bird populations as well as to encourage cooperation between agricultural and bird conservation interests, in a joint effort to preserve these relatively bird-friendly agricultural systems.” Festival goers will get the chance to ride a combine while it harvests rice and flushes up all kinds of secretive goodies including Sora, King Rail, Virginia Rail, Yellow Rail and Black Rail (the last one is a long shot, but one can hope)! But wait folks, that’s not all! The festival offers several optional field trips to birding hotspots in southwest Louisiana. If you didn’t sign up in time this year, don’t miss it next year!