birds

Erin Krall / WWNO

Five years ago on April 20, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off the Louisiana coast. Scientists are still studying the effects of more than 3 million barrels of oil that a federal court determined gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. And those evaluating the effects on birds are still unsure what to expect.

Oil-covered pelicans became the icons of what happened when the oil seeped into the marshes on the Louisiana coast. That damage was clear.

Warbler Workshop At Black Bayou Lake NWR

Apr 2, 2015

The bright, yellow prothonotary warbler is highlighted in a workshop Saturday at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

A number of the warblers make Louisiana their home.  "25 percent of the global population of prothonotarys is in Louisiana," says Erik Johnson, director of bird conservation for  Audubon Louisiana. Johnson hosts the workshop Saturday, which begins at 9 a.m.

Skylar Primm / Flickr

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says a female whooping crane released about a year ago has been shot in Vermilion Parish and had to be put to death.

Spokesman Adam Einck said Wednesday there's a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the conviction of whoever shot the endangered bird.

He says the bird was found Nov. 2 with an apparent bullet wound in her upper left leg and was euthanized the next day at the Louisiana State University veterinary school.

Madhusudan Katti / Flickr

Elevated lead levels in the environment can cause a number of health problems for children and adults, and parts of New Orleans have consistently tested high for lead pollution.

Researchers at Tulane University are experimenting with a new way to test for lead exposure — by listening to bird songs to find out what they can tell us about heavy metals in the environment. 

Tulane researcher Renata Ribeiro spends a lot of time out in the field, recording the songs of Northern Mockingbirds.

Mary Ehret

 

Life is stressful. Luckily, Louisiana is home to several animal sanctuaries where you yourself can go to take refuge. 

Take Avery Island — it’s more than just Tabasco! Each spring, thousands of Snowy Egrets nest in the island’s bird sanctuary. The egrets settle on piers in a pond nicknamed “Bird City.” 

In certain New Orleans music scenes, there is a special sound — a signal — that lets players know it's time to pick up their instruments and strike up the band.

"It's a bugle call, or a band call, to assemble," trumpeter Leroy Jones says.

"It's like: C'mon, rally," musician Matt Bell adds. "Come to the bandstand and be ready to do it. Let's go."

The four-note phrase, however, doesn't belong to musicians alone. Another common New Orleans species, the mockingbird, also produces the call.

Kate Richardson / WWNO

With its warm climate and raised houses, New Orleans is the perfect environment for feral cats. Europeans brought the first domestic cats to North America several centuries ago, and they've been an invasive species ever since.

In order to control the population, the Louisiana SPCA offers a low cost service to trap, neuter and return feral cats to their neighborhoods.

Helen Southard keeps feral cats.

Library of Congress

In certain worlds of New Orleans music, there is a special sound — a signal — which lets players know it's time to pick up their instruments and strike up the band. But where did this signal come from? We listened to chirps, whistles and musicians, hunting for this signal's origins and to learn: what is the chicken, and what is the egg?

When New Orleans musicians want to say a certain thing, instead of words, they use a four note phrase.  

“It’s a bugle call or a band call to assemble,” explains Leroy Jones.

Eileen Fleming / WWNO

As Sunday’s four-year anniversary of the BP oil spill approaches, environmental groups headed out into one of the areas most heavily oiled in the disaster. There, they looked at what effects that oil could be having on wetlands, and inspected the latest damage from coastal erosion, ongoing before and after the spill.

It takes about a half-hour on John Stubbs’ 22-foot fishing boat to get from the Myrtle Grove Marina in Plaquemines Parish to Bay Jimmy in Barataria Bay.

Michael Seymour / LDWF

A mated pair of Whooping Cranes has produced eggs in the Louisiana wild for the first time in 70 years, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced Tuesday.

The announcement, made by LDWF Secretary Robert Barham at the 13th North American Crane Workshop in Lafayette, is a watershed moment in the reintroduction of the endangered birds to the wild. Once widespread, the Whooping Crane population had plummeted to just 21 total birds by the 1940s, mostly due to hunting and the conversion of wetland habitat into agricultural fields.

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