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The avifauna of an agricultural wetland complex in the western Gulf Coastal Plain of Louisiana, USA.

ABSTRACT--The avifauna of a 255 ha rural agricultural wetland complex in the western Gulf Coastal Plain of Louisiana was studied from 1997-2001. The area was 70% agricultural--crawfish, rice, soybeans, and sorghum, 20% grassland-brushy, 5% wooded, and 5% drainage canals and one small permanent pond. An avifauna of 187 species was recorded during the study period--accounting for 40% of the species recorded for the State of Louisiana and 65% of the immediate region's species. The area was heavily used by 80 species of waterbirds including waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, and coots. Drought conditions during 1999 and 2000 emphasized the value of the artificial, shallow water habitat provided by the complex's land managers. The densities of crawfish predators and competitors were such that producers expressed concern about the impact of the birds on their crops. Passerine diversity was influenced by the absence of forested areas; however, there was a conspicuous presence of passerine species, especially those associated with grassland habitats.

Key words: birds, crawfish, rice, wetland habitat, management.

INTRODUCTION

Southern Louisiana is an important location for waterbird conservation based upon the presence of extensive wetland habitat and associated agricultural wetlands where rice and crawfish are cultivated separately or together (Lowery 1974). Continuous loss of coastal wetlands--over 450,000 ha since 1950 and approximately 8,000 ha per year--has dramatically increased the importance of the 220,000 ha of agricultural wetlands as waterbird habitat. In fact, the development of crawfish cultural systems within this region has resulted in a direct increase in wading bird populations in the region (Fleury and Sherry 1995, Fleury et al. 2000). The significance of the area to waterfowl and shorebirds is well known (Remsen et al. 1991, Huner et al. 2001 in review).

There are some useful data available for the avifauna utilizing state and federal wildlife refuges and management areas in southwestern Louisiana as well as the region in general (Palmisano 1969, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1989, Floyd 1997, Musumeche 1997, Fontenot 1999). However, documentation of the seasonal utilization of smaller blocks by birds of all landscapes in southwestern Louisiana is generally lacking. Huner and Musumeche (1999) reported the avian diversity of a 215 ha working farm unit in the region but presented seasonal data only for waterbirds, in general, and wading birds, in particular. Wetland habitat at the location was limited to about 50 ha total.

We studied the seasonal abundance of birds on a 256 ha block of agricultural land in southwestern Louisiana from 1997-2001. Presented here are the results of that study to expand on an unpublished seasonal checklist based on research at the site from 1997-2000 (Musumeche 2000).

STUDY AREA AND METHODS

The study area is located in western St. Landry Parish, Louisiana approximately 7.0 km north of the city of Church Point, Louisiana. The area is part of the Northern Gulf Coastal Plain and was a prairie area prior to settlement. The block of land is located south of Louisiana Highway 358 and east of Louisiana Highway 751. The approximate coordinates of the center of the unit are 30.46 north latitude and 92.23 west longitude. Drainage was into the headwaters of Bayou Plaquemine-Brule. Land use was apportioned as follows: 70% agricultural--agronomic crops, principally rice with some soybeans and sorghum, and crawfish in some rotation with rice; 20% grassland-brushy, 5% wooded, and 5% drainage canals and one small permanent pond. All agricultural fields were surrounded by low levees to hold water for rice cultivation. Individual impounded fields generally ranged in size from about 10-30 ha in size.

Shallow water habitat (5-40 cm) was present in every month of the year as a consequence of the irrigation of rice crops during warmer months and management of various fields for crawfish production in cooler months. The absolute amount of shallow water and mudflat habitat was varied in extent from 5-10% in late summer to over 70% in late winter when much of the land was either flooded for crawfish production--a fall/winter/spring crop--or holding rain water. The grassland-brushy areas generally held water on the surface whenever there was significant rainfall, but standing water never persisted more than several days after rainfall ceased. Fields being used to cultivate crawfish had dense stands of vegetation--usually rice stubble--from the time they were flooded in fall into late winter when most of the vegetation was exhausted and open water habitat replaced marsh-type habitat. Fields being used to cultivate crawfish were drained as early as March if the crop was poor and prices were low or as late as July if the crop was good and prices were high.

Rainfall varied through the course of the study, being higher at the beginning and declining through 2000 with a reverse trend during the first 7 months of 2001 (Southern Regional Climate Center 2001). Severe drought conditions were experienced in 1999 and 2000. Rainfall recorded at the nearest official weather station in Eunice, Louisiana approximately 17.5 km WNW of the site being: 1997, 154.4 cm, 1998, 152.2 cm, 1999, 99.1 cm, 2000, 96.0 cm, and 2001 (January-July), 73.2 cm. This compares to the long-term 1961-1990 average of 148.1 cm of rainfall. Area flooded for crawfish and rice production remained fairly stable throughout the period but there was far less standing water and/or moist soils in grassland-brushy areas and idle fields during the drier periods.

The primary water supply for the complex was well water drawn from the Chicot Aquifer. Farmers trapped and held water in fallow fields during the winter months of 1996-1997 and 1997-1998 when rainfall was slightly above the long-term annual average. However, during the drought periods of 1998-1999 and 1999-2000, very little water was available from rainfall and ground water usage was greatly increased. Whenever water was released from a ricefield or a crawfish pond during the period, the water was invariably reused by a downstream landowner.

Waterbird usage of the site was monitored at least weekly from the fall of 1997 through the summer of 2001, most often during morning hours. Beginning in July 1998 and continuing into July 2001, all bird species were monitored at least biweekly, most often during morning hours. Standard ornithological field guides were available to identify birds with National Geographic Field Guides (2nd Ed. 1987, 3rd Ed. 1999) being the primary references. The principal checklist used was the Checklist of Louisiana Birds (Dittman 1998). Seasons were defined as follows: SP--Spring, March-May; SU--Summer, June-July; F--Fall, August-October; and W--Winter, November-February. Seasonal checklist categories were as follows: A--abundant, seen on all trips in large numbers at proper season; C--common, seen most of the time at proper season; U--uncommon, usually present, but in low numbers at the proper season; R--rare, found infrequently at proper season; and X--accidental, has been seen only once or twice.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Table 1 provides data on seasonal abundance of major waterbird taxa at the site for the period 1997-2001. Table 2 provides a seasonal checklist for all bird species by common and scientific names (American Ornithological Union).

Waterbirds

Eighty species of waterbirds including grebes, cormorants, anhingas, bitterns, herons, egrets, ibises and spoonbills, waterfowl, rails, gallinules, coots, shorebirds, gulls and terns, and kingfishers were documented. This represents approximately 80% of the waterbirds reported in adjacent Acadia Parish (west and south) (Floyd 1997). Of these, 24 species were found to be common or abundant in at least one season and 15 species were nesting at or near the site (Table 2). Wading birds were conspicuously present throughout all months, but species composition varied (Tables 1, 2). This reflects the seasonal migration of Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Cattle Egrets, Green Herons, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, and Roseate Spoonbills in fall and their return in the spring. Great Egrets, White and White-faced Ibises were most consistent in seasonal persistence.

In general, the greatest numbers of wading birds was encountered when crawfish ponds were drained with several thousand in the largest ponds. However, mixed flocks of White Ibis and Great Egrets exceeding 5,000 in number, were recorded at least once each winter from December into March. White Ibis, accounting for 90% of all birds present, dominated these flocks. The farmers who managed the land at the site drained crawfish ponds based on pond specific economics. If crawfish production was too low or prices were too low to justify harvesting crawfish, the pond would be drained as early as March or as late as July. Depending on pond size, several thousand wading birds were attracted to the pond for the 3-5 day period required to drain a pond completely.

The mixed flocks of White Ibis and Great Egrets recorded in winter exhibited a previously unreported foraging strategy. Ibis, tactile/probe feeders, foraged across a pond in a mass, probing for food items such as crawfish, while the egrets remained around the periphery taking prey disturbed by the foraging ibises. In spring, when White-faced Ibis were abundant, foraging aggregations included Great and Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons.

Both White and White-faced Ibises would desert crawfish ponds during periods of heavy rainfall to forage in flooded fields. The birds were feeding primarily on arthropods and other invertebrates displaced by the shallow waters on otherwise dry ground. We did note that White Ibis were regularly probing into the flooded burrow entrances of so-called "terrestrial" crawfishes with obvious success under these conditions. The ibises would return to crawfish ponds once waters soaked into the soil and/or ran off, usually the day after a heavy rainfall event.

Little Blue Herons and Cattle Egrets were often encountered in mixed flocks of 50-200 in ricefields during summer. These species were apparently feeding on insects and amphibians--tadpoles and metamorphosed frogs. The Cattle Egrets were often observed wading in shallow water.

Waterfowl were common to abundant during cooler months of the year and there was a breeding presence of Mottled Ducks and Fulvous Whistling-Ducks during the summer season. Puddle ducks including Gadwall, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and Green-winged Teal were more likely to be encountered than diving ducks throughout the period. However, a mixed flock of several hundred Ring-necked Ducks and Lesser Scaup wintered on the site from January 1997 through March 1997 but were not encountered in such high numbers in subsequent winters. Average water depth in the crawfish ponds they frequented was under 30 cm.

The maximum number of ducks encountered at any one time exceeded 5,000 individuals. Ducks were most common from the time the waterfowl season ended in January until they migrated north in spring. It was apparent there were more ducks present on the site at night than during the day during the waterfowl season. Ducks could be seen arriving in good numbers at dusk and could be heard leaving before dawn but we had no way of monitoring the numbers of ducks present at night.

Geese did not use the site on a regular basis during the study period. However, Snow Geese were so abundant during the winter of 1997 that they destroyed much of the forage vegetation in the shallow crawfish ponds.

Shorebirds, in general, were common to abundant during the spring and fall migratory period. Killdeer and especially Black-necked Stilts nested at the site in good numbers. Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and Semipalmated, Western, Least, White-rumped, and Stilt Sandpipers, and Common Snipe were common to abundant shorebird species. The maximum number of shorebirds encountered on any particular visit to the site was 4,000 individuals.

The "marsh" birds were well represented in terms of numbers of species present; however, only American Coot was found to be abundant during the cooler months. The maximum estimated number of coots on the site at any one time was 10,000 individuals. Coots were associated with destruction of the forage vegetation in ponds where they were especially abundant and did substantial damage to newly planted rice in adjacent rice fields. Of the rail species, Sora was the only species to be judged common. Pied-billed Grebes were not "common" but could be located at any season with enough effort. The grebes did nest successfully at the site in each study year.

Cormorants, anhingas, gulls, terns, and kingfishers were recorded at the site in each year but never in the large numbers as reported at other crawfish production areas in the region (Huner and Musumeche 1999, Huner et al. 2001, in review). One of the most common terns in the region, Forester's Tern, has yet to be documented at the site. It is likely that the site is too remote to larger bodies of water to attract these species.

The site assumed special importance to waterbirds during 1999 and 2000 when a major drought was experienced in the area. Water in crawfish ponds during the cool months and in rice fields during the warm months provided habitat that was greatly reduced in the region's natural wetlands.

Crawfish Predation and Competition Issues

Crawfish farmers have long been concerned with direct predation by waterbirds on their crawfish crops and competition of waterbirds for crawfish food, forage, and substrate (Fleury and Sherry 1995, Fleury et al. 1999, Huner and Musumeche 1999, Huner et al. 2001--in review). Of the 80 waterbird species recorded at the site, 22 are known crawfish predators and another 15 are competitors for food, forage, and substrate (Table 2). Of these species, Great and Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, White and White-faced Ibis, and Wood Stork were so abundant at our study site to cause concern to farmers in regards to the predation issue. As a result, these birds were actively harassed, at times, with non-lethal methods to discourage them from using the crawfish ponds. Of the crawfish competitors present, the following species were encountered at times in numbers great enough to concern farmers: Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, and American Coot. We are unable to address the impact of predator and competitor birds; however, we understood the farmers' concerns about these issues and felt a study to address them was needed based on the major importance of these systems as waterbird habitat.

Other Bird Species

In addition to the 80 waterbird species recorded at the study site, 107 other species were noted including those that are both resident and migratory. This number represents 57% of the non-waterbird species recorded in adjacent (to the west and south) Acadia Parish (Floyd 1997). These birds included 1 vulture, 10 raptors, 1 quail, 6 doves, 1 cuckoo, 3 owls, 1 swift, 2 hummingbirds, 5 woodpeckers, 7 flycatchers, 1 shrike, 2 vireos, 1 jay, 2 crows, 6 swallows, 1 chickadee, 1 titmouse, 5 wrens, 1 kinglet, 1 gnatcatcher, 3 thrushes, 3 mimic thrushes, 1 starling, 1 pipit, 1 waxwing, 11 warblers, 1 tanager, 13 sparrows, 1 cardinal, 1 grosbeak, 2 buntings, 1 dickcissel, 2 blackbirds, 1 meadowlark, 2 grackles, 1 cowbird, 1 oriole, 1 goldfinch, 1 finch, and 1 weaver finch. Of these birds, at least 33 nested on the site or nearby (Table 2). Abundant nesters at the site included Mourning Dove, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, Dickcissel, Red-winged Blackbird, and Eastern Meadowlark.

Absolute diversity and density of non-waterbird species was limited by the absence of closed forest in the area. Other agricultural wetland sites in southern Louisiana will typically support at least 135-140 non-waterbird species as long as 20-30% of the site is forested to some degree (Huner and Musumeche 1999; Huner et al. 2001--in review). However, considering the open, prairie-like habitat "vista" at the site, the diversity of migrating songbirds, especially flycatchers and warblers, was significant. There is little doubt that 200 total species can be documented at the site with additional effort.

Conclusions

Avian habitat must be considered as a continuum with some species favoring one desirable habitat such as a "wetland complex" while others favoring different habitats such as a "woodland complex." The area we studied is small when the entire landscape is considered. However, the US Fish & Wildlife Service "Mini-Refuge" program is based on similar-sized units (David Fruge', Personal Communication). The unit, as managed by the land owners for agricultural production and waterbird hunting activities, sustains at least 40% of the recorded avifauna of the State of Louisiana (Dittman, 1998) and 65% of the fauna recorded in the immediate area (Floyd 1997). This avifauna includes large numbers of both waterbirds and other species including local, regional, continental, and inter-continental species. Thus, efforts to encourage land owners and farmers to sustain their current land management practices should be emphasized. Shallow water habitat was especially important to waterbirds during the drought years of 1999 and 2000 when rainfall for the immediate area was approximately 66% of the long term average and 64% of the average for the preceding two years, 1997 and 1998.
TABLE 1. Seasonal abundance of major waterbird taxa at an agricultural
wetland site in western St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, USA, 1997-2001.

 Spring Summer Fall Winter
 Taxon (Mar-May) (Jun-Jul) (Aug-Oct) (Nov-Feb)

Grebes U U U U
Cormorants U -- -- U
Tall Herons/Egrets A A C C
Short Herons/Egrets A C C U
White Ibises C A C A
Dark Ibises A A C U
Spoonbills U U U --
Storks -- C -- --
Waterfowl A U C C
Coots C U U A
Shorebirds A U U C
Gulls U -- -- U
Terns -- -- R --

Seasonal Abundance: A=Abundant, seen on all trips in large numbers at
proper season; C=Common, seen most of the time at proper season;
U=Uncommon, usually present but in low numbers at proper season;
and R=Rare, found infrequently at proper season.

TABLE 2. Seasonal checklist of the birds (common and scientific names)
identified at an agricultural wetland site in western St. Landry
Parish, Louisiana, USA, 1997-2001.

 Seasonal
 abundance
 ([dagger])

 Species Scientific name Spring

Pied-billed Grebe (*) (CFP) Podilymbus podiceps U
Neotropic Cormorant (CFP) Palacrocorax brasilianus --
Double-crested
 Cormorant (CFP) Palcrocorax auritus R
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga --
American Bittern (CFP) Botaurus lentiginosus R
Least Bittern (CFP) Ixobrychus exilis X
Great Blue Heron (CFP) Ardea herodias U
Great Egret (*) (CFP) Ardea alba A
Snowy Egret (*) (CFP) Egretta thula A
Little Blue Heron (*) (CFP) Egretta caerulea A
Tricolored Heron (CFP) Egretta tricolor U
Cattle Egret (*) (CFP) Bubulcus ibis C
Green Heron (*) (CFP) Butroides virescens U
Black-crowned
 Night-Heron (*) (CFP) Nycticorax nycticorax C
Yellow-crowned
 Night-Heron (*) (CFP) Nyctanassa violacea U
White Ibis (*) (CFP) Eudocimus albus U/A *
White-faced Ibis (CFP) Plegadis chihi A
Roseate Spoonbill (CFP) Ajaia ajaja U
Wood Stork (CFP) Myceteria Americana --
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura X
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis X
Fulvous Whistling-Duck (*) Dendrocygna bicolor U
Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons --
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens --
Ross's Goose Chen rossii --
Canada Goose Branta Canadensis --
Wood Duck (*) (CFC) Aix sponsa --
Gadwall (CFC) Anas strepera C
American Wigeon (CFC) Anas Americana R
Mallard (CFC) Anas platyrhychos A
Mottled Duck (CFC) Anas fulvigula U
Blue-winged Teal (CFC) Anas discors A
Northern Shoveler (CFC) Anas clypeata A
Northern Pintail (CFC) Anas acuta U
Green-winged Teal (CFC) Anas crecca A
Canvasback (CFC) Aythya valisineria --
Redhead (CFC) Aythya americana --
Ring-necked Duck (CFC) Aythya collaris --
Lesser Scaup (CFC) Aythya affinis --
Common Goldeneye (CFC) Bucephala clangula --
Hooded Merganser (CFP) Lophodytes cucullatus R
Ruddy Duck (CFC) Oxyura jamaicensis X
Mississippi Kite Ictinia mississippiensis --
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus U
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus --
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii X
Red-shouldered Hawk (*) Buteo lineatus R
Broad-winged Hawk (*) Buteo platypterus U
Red-tailed Hawk (*) Buteo jamaicensis U
American Kestrel Falco sparverius U
Merlin Falco columbarius --
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus --
Northern Bobwhite (*) Colinus virginianus U
King Rail (*) Rallus elegans R
Sora Porzana Carolina --
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus R
American Coot (CFC) Fulica Americana C
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola U
American Golden-Plover Pluvialis dominica R
Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia X
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus X
Killdeer (*) Charadrius vociferous C
Black-necked Stilt (*) Himantopus mexicanus A
American Avocet Recurivirostra Americana R
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca C
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes A
Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria U
Willit Catoptrophorus semipalmatus R
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia X
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus R
Hudsonian Godwit Limosa naemastica X
Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa --
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres R
Red Knot Calidris interpres X
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla C
Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri C
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla C
White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis C
Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii U
Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos U
Dunlin Calidris alpina R
Stilt Sandpiper Calidris himantopus C
Buff-breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficollis R
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus R
Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus R
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago A
American Woodcock Scolopax minor --
Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor R
Laughing Gull (CFP) Larus atricilla U
Ring-billed Gull (CFP) Larus delawarensis U
Common Tern Sterna hirundo --
Rock Dove (*) Columba livia U
Eurasian Collared-Dove (*) Streptopelia decaocto R
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica --
Mourning Dove (*) Zenaida macroura A
Inca Dove Columbina inca R
Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina --
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (*) Coccyzus americanus R
Barn Owl Tyto alba X
Eastern Screech-Owl Otus asio X
Barred Owl Strix varia --
Chimney Swift (*) Chaetura pelagica U
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris U
Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus --
Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon R
Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus m
Red-bellied Woodpecker (*) Melanerpes carolinus U
Downy Woodpecker (*) Picoides pubescens --
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus X
Northern Flicker (Yel.-sh.) Colaptes auratus --
Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens --
Alder Flycatcher Empidonax alnorum --
Willow Flycatcher Empidonax trailii --
Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe U
Great Crested Flycatcher (*) Myiarchus crinitus R
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tryannus R
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus --
Loggerhead Shrike (*) Lanius ludovicianus U
White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus U
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo flavoviridis X
Blue Jay (*) Cyanocitta cristatat U
American Crow (*) Corvus brachyrhynchos C
Fish Crow Corvus ossifragus --
Purple Martin (*) Progne subis U
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor U
Northern Rough-winged
 Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis U
Bank Swallow Riparia riparia --
Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota --
Barn Swallow (*) Hirundo rustica C
Carolina Chickadee (*) Poecile carolinensis U
Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor R
Carolina Wren (*) Thryothorus ludovicianus U
House Wren Troglodytes aedon U
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes X
Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis --
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris R
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula U
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea --
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis --
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus --
American Robin Turdus migratorius C
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis X
Northern Mockingbird (*) Mimus polyglottos C
Brown Thrasher (*) Toxostoma rufum U
European Starling (*) Sturnus vulgaris C
American Pipit Anthus rubescens U
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum R
Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata R
Nashville Warbler Vermivora ruficapilla --
Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia --
Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata C
Pine Warbler Dendroica pinus --
Palm Warbler Dendroica palmarum --
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla --
Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla --
Common Yellowthroat (*) Geothlypis trichas U
Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla R
Yellow-breasted Chat (*) Icteria virens R
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra U
Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus R
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina --
Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla R
Vesper Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis --
Lark Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus --
Savannah Sparrow Chondestes grammacus C
Le Conte's Sparrow Ammodramus leconteii --
Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca --
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia U
Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii X
Swamp Sparrow Melospiza Georgiana C
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis C
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys R
Northern Cardinal (*) Cardinalis cardinalis C
Blue Grosbeak Guiraca caerulea U
Indigo Bunting (*) Passerina cyanea U
Painted Bunting (*) Passerina ciris --
Dickcissel (*) Spiza Americana A
Red-winged Blackbird (*) Agelaius phoeniceus A
Eastern Meadowlark (*) Sturnella magna C
Rusty Blackbird Euphagus carolinus --
Common Grackle (*) Quiscalus quiscula C
Boat-tailed Grackle Quiscalus major U
Brown-headed Cowbird (*) Molothrus ater C
Orchard Oriole (*) Icterus spurious U
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus R
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis --
House Sparrow (*) Passer domesticus U

 Seasonal abundance ([dagger])

 Species Summer Fall Winter

Pied-billed Grebe (*) (CFP) R R U
Neotropic Cormorant (CFP) -- R X
Double-crested
 Cormorant (CFP) -- U R
Anhinga -- X X
American Bittern (CFP) -- -- R
Least Bittern (CFP) -- X --
Great Blue Heron (CFP) U U U
Great Egret (*) (CFP) A C C
Snowy Egret (*) (CFP) C C U
Little Blue Heron (*) (CFP) A A --
Tricolored Heron (CFP) U U --
Cattle Egret (*) (CFP) A A U
Green Heron (*) (CFP) U -- R
Black-crowned
 Night-Heron (*) (CFP) C U U
Yellow-crowned
 Night-Heron (*) (CFP) C C --
White Ibis (*) (CFP) A C A
White-faced Ibis (CFP) A C U
Roseate Spoonbill (CFP) U U --
Wood Stork (CFP) C -- --
Turkey Vulture -- -- U
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck -- -- --
Fulvous Whistling-Duck (*) U -- U
Greater White-fronted Goose -- U U
Snow Goose -- -- U
Ross's Goose -- -- X
Canada Goose -- -- R
Wood Duck (*) (CFC) R R R
Gadwall (CFC) -- -- U
American Wigeon (CFC) -- -- R
Mallard (CFC) -- -- C
Mottled Duck (CFC) U R R
Blue-winged Teal (CFC) R C C
Northern Shoveler (CFC) X R A
Northern Pintail (CFC) X -- C
Green-winged Teal (CFC) -- -- C
Canvasback (CFC) -- -- R
Redhead (CFC) -- -- R
Ring-necked Duck (CFC) -- -- X
Lesser Scaup (CFC) -- -- U
Common Goldeneye (CFC) -- -- X
Hooded Merganser (CFP) -- -- --
Ruddy Duck (CFC) -- X --
Mississippi Kite X -- --
Northern Harrier -- U C
Sharp-shinned Hawk -- X R
Cooper's Hawk -- X X
Red-shouldered Hawk (*) R U U
Broad-winged Hawk (*) U U --
Red-tailed Hawk (*) R R U
American Kestrel -- U C
Merlin -- -- R
Peregrine Falcon -- X X
Northern Bobwhite (*) U U R
King Rail (*) R R R
Sora -- -- C
Common Moorhen R -- --
American Coot (CFC) U U A
Black-bellied Plover -- -- --
American Golden-Plover -- -- --
Wilson's Plover -- -- --
Semipalmated Plover -- X --
Killdeer (*) C C A
Black-necked Stilt (*) A U U
American Avocet R -- --
Greater Yellowlegs C U U
Lesser Yellowlegs U U U
Solitary Sandpiper -- U --
Willet -- -- --
Spotted Sandpiper -- -- --
Whimbrel -- -- --
Hudsonian Godwit -- -- --
Marbled Godwit X -- --
Ruddy Turnstone -- -- --
Red Knot -- -- --
Semipalmated Sandpiper U U --
Western Sandpiper R R U
Least Sandpiper R U U
White-rumped Sandpiper -- X --
Baird's Sandpiper X -- --
Pectoral Sandpiper U U --
Dunlin -- -- --
Stilt Sandpiper U R --
Buff-breasted Sandpiper -- -- --
Short-billed Dowitcher X U --
Long-billed Dowitcher R -- U
Common Snipe -- U A
American Woodcock -- -- X
Wilson's Phalarope -- -- --
Laughing Gull (CFP) -- -- U
Ring-billed Gull (CFP) -- -- R
Common Tern -- R --
Rock Dove (*) -- U U
Eurasian Collared-Dove (*) R -- R
White-winged Dove -- -- R
Mourning Dove (*) C C C
Inca Dove -- R --
Common Ground-Dove -- R R
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (*) R R --
Barn Owl X -- --
Eastern Screech-Owl -- -- X
Barred Owl -- -- X
Chimney Swift (*) U U --
Ruby-throated Hummingbird X U --
Rufous Hummingbird -- X --
Belted Kingfisher -- R R
Red-headed Woodpecker -- X --
Red-bellied Woodpecker (*) U U U
Downy Woodpecker (*) R R R
Hairy Woodpecker -- X --
Northern Flicker (Yel.-sh.) -- R --
Acadian Flycatcher -- X --
Alder Flycatcher -- X --
Willow Flycatcher -- X --
Eastern Phoebe -- U U
Great Crested Flycatcher (*) R -- --
Eastern Kingbird U U --
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher -- R --
Loggerhead Shrike (*) U U U
White-eyed Vireo -- -- --
Red-eyed Vireo -- -- --
Blue Jay (*) U U U
American Crow (*) C C C
Fish Crow R R U
Purple Martin (*) U R --
Tree Swallow -- R C
Northern Rough-winged
 Swallow U C --
Bank Swallow -- U --
Cliff Swallow -- U --
Barn Swallow (*) C A --
Carolina Chickadee (*) U U U
Tufted Titmouse -- -- --
Carolina Wren (*) U U U
House Wren -- U U
Winter Wren -- -- --
Sedge Wren -- -- U
Marsh Wren -- -- U
Ruby-crowned Kinglet -- -- U
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher R -- U
Eastern Bluebird -- U U
Hermit Thrush -- -- R
American Robin -- -- C
Gray Catbird -- R --
Northern Mockingbird (*) C C C
Brown Thrasher (*) R U U
European Starling (*) C C A
American Pipit -- -- U
Cedar Waxwing -- -- --
Orange-crowned Warbler -- -- U
Nashville Warbler -- R --
Yellow Warbler -- R --
Yellow-rumped Warbler -- -- C
Pine Warbler -- -- R
Palm Warbler -- R R
American Redstart -- R --
Louisiana Waterthrush -- X --
Common Yellowthroat (*) U U U
Wilson's Warbler -- X --
Yellow-breasted Chat (*) R -- --
Summer Tanager -- X --
Eastern Towhee -- -- R
Chipping Sparrow -- -- U
Field Sparrow -- -- R
Vesper Sparrow -- -- R
Lark Sparrow -- X --
Savannah Sparrow -- U A
Le Conte's Sparrow -- -- X
Fox Sparrow -- -- X
Song Sparrow -- -- C
Lincoln's Sparrow -- -- --
Swamp Sparrow -- U C
White-throated Sparrow -- -- C
White-crowned Sparrow -- -- R
Northern Cardinal (*) C C C
Blue Grosbeak X C --
Indigo Bunting (*) R A --
Painted Bunting (*) U X --
Dickcissel (*) A U --
Red-winged Blackbird (*) C A A
Eastern Meadowlark (*) C U C
Rusty Blackbird -- -- U
Common Grackle (*) C C A
Boat-tailed Grackle -- -- C
Brown-headed Cowbird (*) C C C
Orchard Oriole (*) R X --
House Finch X -- X
American Goldfinch -- -- U
House Sparrow (*) U U U

* Nesting on site or in the immediate area of the site.

CFP=Crawfish Predator

CFC= Crawfish Competitor

([dagger]) Seasonal abundance: A=Abundant, seen on all trips in large
numbers at proper season; C=Common, seen most of the time at proper
season; U=Uncommon, usually present but in low numbers at proper
season; R=Rare, found infrequently at proper season; and X=Accidental,
has been seen only once or twice. Seasons: Spring=March-May,
Summer=June-July, Fall=August-October, and Winter=November-February.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This study was funded by the Louisiana Crawfish Promotion and Research Board. We acknowledge the following land owners for permission to work on the study site: Leroy Richard, Jr., Levins Savoy, and Perry Smith, Jr. Dr. Clinton W. Jeske, National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA, assisted with some site survey work for this project. Ms. Sherry Musumeche provided much needed assistance in consolidating seasonal field data.

LITERATURE CITED

DITTMAN, D.L. 1998. Checklist of Louisiana birds. Louisiana Ornithological Society, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

FLEURY, B.E. AND T.W. SHERRY. 1995. Long-term population trends of colonial wading birds in the southern United States: The impact of crayfish aquaculture on Louisiana populations. The Auk 112:613-632.

FLEURY, B.E., T.W. SHERRY, AND J.V. HUNER. 2000. Agricultural wetlands and the conservation of colonial wading birds in Louisiana. Pp. 287-294. In L.P. Rozas, J.A. Nyman, C.E. Proffitt, N.N. Rabalais, D.J. Reed, and R.E. Turner (Eds.), Recent research in coastal Louisiana. Natural system function and response to human influence--a symposium 1998. Louisiana Sea Grant Program, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

FLOYD, M. 1997. Birds of Acadia Parish, Louisiana. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Alexandria, Louisiana.

FONTENOT, B. 1999. Checklist of south-central Louisiana birds. Lafayette Nature Station, 1205 East Alexander, Lafayette, Louisiana 70501.

HUNER, J.V. AND M.J. MUSUMECHE. 1999. Avian diversity associated with a crawfish impoundment unit in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, USA. Proc. Louisiana Acad. Sci. 62: 1-15.

HUNER, J.V., C.W. JESKE, AND W. NORLING. 2001 (In review). Managing agricultural wetlands for waterbirds in the coastal regions of Louisiana and Texas, USA. Waterbird Journal.

LOWERY, G.H., JR. 1974. Louisiana birds, 3rd ed. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

MUSUMECHE, M.J. 1997. Birds of Iberia Parish. Iberia Parish Tourist Commission, New Iberia, Louisiana.

MUSUMECHE, M.J. 2000. Seasonal checklist. Birds of an ag/wetland farm (complex) in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Crawfish Research Center, Univ. of Louisiana at Lafayette, 1031 W.J. Bernard Rd., St. Martinville, Louisiana 70582.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY. 1987. Field guide to the birds of North America, 2nd ed. National Geographic Society. Washington, D.C.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY. 1999. Field guide to the birds of North America, 3rd ed. National Geographic Society. Washington, D.C.

PALMISANO, A.W., JR. 1969. Wings over Rockefeller. Louisiana Wild Life and Fisheries Commission Wildlife Education Bulletin No. 104-1969, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

REMSEN, J.V., JR., M.M. SWAN, S.W. CARDIFF, AND K.V. ROSENBERG. 1991. The importance of the rice-growing region of south Louisiana to winter populations of shorebirds, raptors, waders, and other birds. Louisiana Ornithological Soc. Bull. 1 (2):34-47.

SOUTHERN REGIONAL CLIMATE CENTER. 2001. Rainfall Data for Eunice, Louisiana. Southern Regional Climate Center, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE. 1989. Birds of Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Jamestown, North Dakota.
Michael J. Musumeche, Jay V. Huner, Tibor Mikuska,
Gregory Richard, and Billy Leonard
Crawfish Research Center
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Lafayette, LA 70504
COPYRIGHT 2001 Louisiana Academy of Sciences
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Musumeche, Michael J.; Huner, Jay V.; Mikuska, Tibor; Richard, Gregory; Leonard, Billy
Publication:The Proceedings of the Louisiana Academy of Sciences
Geographic Code:1U7LA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:5177
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