Saturday, August 31, 2013

Another spoonbill on West Metairie

Roseate Spoonbills in the West Metairie Ave between-the-lanes canal had been missing recently, until this evening at dusk I spotted one feeding.  It was farther west than usual, almost west to Roosevelt (at Blanche).  Most of the other waders had already flow off to roost; there was only one bird (a Great Egret) between Roosevelt and David Drive.

Good birding,


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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ted Hickey Bridge this morning

I swung by the Senator Ted Hickey Bridge on the lakefront (crossing the industrial canal by the Lakefront Airport) this morning, and there were 130 or so birds arrayed on the breakwaters:
60 or so Laughing Gulls
69 Forster's Terns
5 Black Skimmers
1 Royal Tern
1 Ring-billed Gull

Nice to see more Forster's Terns there than gulls.

The five skimmers were 3 adults, and 2 immatures.  I imagine they are from the local rooftop nesting populations elsewhere in the city.  They are at the breakwater here from time to time.

The Ring-billed Gull was out of season.  Although a few linger through the summer on the outer coast (eg, Fourchon), it is less usual to see them in summer in New Orleans.  It looked like an adult except for some localized dark mottling remaining on the wing weathers, which indicates some immaturity. They take three years to mature to adulthood.

A little west on the lakefront, near the first shelter, a Great Blue Heron standing on the lake wall looked fairly tame- perhaps accustomed to panhandling fish or scraps from people.

Good birding,


for a copy of Birding Made Easy-New Orleans, email me at, or look for it at the Maple Street or Garden District Book Shops.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wandering Black-necked Stilts

Today as I was driving from the north end of City Park on Marconi up to the lakefront, I noticed  a Black-necked Stilt in the air over the Marconi canal.

Wondering whether some shorebird habitat may have evolved along the canal edge*, I pulled over and scampered up over the levee to look at the area.  There was no decent habitat- though three Black-necked Stilts were on the rock-reinforced shore (they are usually birds of marshy shallows).

They promptly flew off together, spooked by my presence, heading over Lake Vista (could have been a great flyover yard bird for somebody!)

These birds were probably just wandering in the area- something many species do in late summer.  They nest commonly in marshes just outside of town- like at Bayou Sauvage NWR.  These three settled in marginal habitat, probably having a hard time finding a decent spot in the urban matrix.  Even if I hadn't flushed them, they probably wouldn't have stayed for long.


*finding shorebirds away from the immediate coast is usually an exercise in sleuthing out where the habitat is good at any particular time- the product of recent rainpool formation, drying of ponds, etc.  Sites are transient, often holding birds for several weeks or even months, but being completely unsuitable the next year.  I was hoping the stilt had given away a hidden shorebird hotspot, but no luck.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cooper's Hawk gets in on vampire mania

A belated observation:

Last week I was driving through Old Metairie at about 8:30 am, and a raptor swooped across the road in front of me about thirty feet up, engaging in all kinds of erratic maneuvering, looping back and forth as if trying to snatch an evasive bug in the air.

It did not look like one of the Mississippi Kites that have been performing dramatic maneuvers for the last few weeks nabbing cicadas, so I took a closer look.

It was a Cooper's Hawk trying to nab- a bat!  The poor bat was no match for its speed, but seemed to be a challenge to its agility.  I pulled over to try and watch the outcome, but they were both gone- victor unknown.


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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Monticello night waterbird roost- update

Yesterday evening I made another visit to the nocturnal wader roost in the water treatment plant on Monticello, on the Orleans-Jefferson Parish line between River Road and Jefferson Highway.

It has grown substantially, now that the nesting season is over for these species, allowing them to leave their colonies and appear in places like this roost.
The tally at dusk:
700 White Ibis (almost all adult, but some immatures may have escaped detection since they are darker- I did see ten fly in)
5 Snowy Egret
5 Cattle Egret
5 Great Egret
3 Anhinga
no spoonbills!

An adult Black-crowned Night-Heron was perched on a cement wall (unlike the wader roost, which is in a copse of willows)

There were scores of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks flying about calling.

I was surprised to see Wood Ducks also flying in at nightfall in small flocks- I counted 40 birds coming in, but am not sure how many came in before I arrived (Wood Ducks can be told in flight from the other resident species by their smaller size and proportionally longer tails).

In the failing light, I could also make out 4 Black-necked Stilts, and 6 "peeps" (small shorebirds) that were most likely Least Sandpipers.

Quite a crowd of birds!


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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spoonbills and waders in West Metairie Ave today

I tallied waders today in my morning commute down West Metairie Ave, with my daughter keeping the numbers:
1 Great Blue Heron
1 Green Heron
1 Tricolored Heron (doubtfully a Little Blue)
1 Cattle Egret
3 Snowy Egret
1 Great Egret
2 Roseate Spoonbill
all on the ground/in the water between the eastbound and westbound lanes, between around Elise and around Cleary (2.1 miles, sayeth Google Earth).  

And I dipped* on White Ibis

Gotta love living in this city!


*"dipped" is birder slang for missing an expected or anticipated bird species

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Roseate Spoonbills on West Metairie

This morning I was again commuting down West Metairie, and came across two Roseate Spoonbills in the drainage ditch between the lanes just west of Transcontinental.



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Monday, August 19, 2013

Attracting birds by making noises II

(This is the second part of something I posted yesterday about spishing, squeeking, and using owl calls to draw birds into view)

What species?

It is very helpful to know what species to focus your spishing attentions on; here is a list of some commonly encountered species that are especially responsive:

Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina, House, Winter, Marsh, and Sedge Wrens
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Orange-crowned, Magnolia, Yellow, and Yellow-rumped Warblers
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee
Song, Savannah, White-throated, and Swamp Sparrows

It is good to remember that if you can just get one bird riled up at your spishing, its response will often excite other birds enough to draw them into view as well.  In the best circumstances, you can have a dozen or more birds all fussing at you at once.

I spish much more than I squeek, so do not have as good a sense of what species respond to squeeking better.  However, squeeking has the rep of being better than spishing at attracting predators, especially owls.  In addition, some people squeek at shorebirds to draw them close- most often while they are flying around.

Owl calls seem to work with much the same crowd as spishing- again, I have not noticed any differences.  Except, of course, that an owl sometimes calls back (especially Screech).

One peculiarity of spishing is that it has long been claimed that it does not work in Europe.  British birders often look at us with bemusement when they see "Yanks" doing it.  I tested its effectiveness numerous times in 2010 while I was in Austria, focusing on tits (the family of birds we call chickadees)- and I will admit, had very little response.   


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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Attracting birds by making noises

An important skill for birding in North America is the art of attracting birds in the field by making noises.  The best known of these is "spishing," but "squeeking" and imitating small owls (or playing recordings of owls) are also both common.


Sometimes called "swishing," is a noise made in the front of the mouth.  Imagine a librarian saying "ssshhhhh!" to quiet down noisy clients- this is the basic component of most spishing, except that a p or w sound is usually added near the front:  spsshhhhh, or swsssshhh.   And most of the time, the sound is made in a soft coaxing tone rather than a harsh scolding one.  About 1-2 phrases per second is typical.

Each birder has their own preferred variations.  Personally, I often deviate to a ch ch ch ch ch ch sound, or make a higher pitcher variation that is more like  sssss pssss pssss.  I also often start soft and coaxing and progress to a more loud and alarmed version.  But this is for each to experiment, and come up with their own recipe.


Generally done by curling the index finger, and kissing it on the crease thus created.   Loudly and sharply.  It works well with songbirds, but I find that spishing has a higher success rate.  It is better for attracting predators though, notably owls, and sometimes works on mammals (I once squeeked in a weasel in Maine). 

Owl Imitations

In our neck of the woods Eastern Screech Owl is usually the species used.  These days, many birders play   screech owl recordings from hand held electronic devices in the field.  Some whistle an imitation (a skill that takes practice- usually involving trembling through a small amount of spit stuck against the roof of the mouth with the tongue).  A simple tooting whistle at intervals of about a second is easier to produce vocally, and often works well (it is similar to some owls that do not occur here, but seems to be recognized by local songbirds anyway).  This is generally used for attracting songbirds, and in my experience is approximately equal in effectiveness to spishing.  A collateral benefit for using a screech owl call is that sometimes a screech owl will respond by calling back, especially in late summer and early fall, even in daylight.

More about this topic on my next post...


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Friday, August 16, 2013

More Roseate Spoonbills in Jefferson

This morning at 8 AM I peaked over the Mississippi River levee across from Jefferson Playground in Old Jefferson, and was surprised to see two Roseate Spoonbills probing the swale with the usual White Ibises.

The birds were gone 30 minutes later when I returned, but after spotting one yesterday and two today, it seems like it is a good time to be on the alert for them.

Despite reports of good numbers of migrant songbirds in City Park, there were few in the Jefferson batture - just 9 Yellow Warblers.  However, I did see a falcon barreling south along the river- whatever species it was, it was a migrant, since none nest south of Lake Pontchartrain. It was at quite a distance, but seemed to me to be a Merlin based upon its relatively small size and very direct, powerful flight.  The other small falcon, American Kestrel, is much more buoyant in the air, and flies less directly and intensely than Merlin. 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Roseate Spoonbill on West Metairie Rd

This morning at 8 am, I was able to excitedly point out a Roseate Spoonbill sitting on an islet in the neutral ground drainage canal on West Metairie, about a block west of Transcontinental, to my daughter on the way to school. 

We drove within ten yards of it.  This close to Lafreniere Park, I suspect it may roost there among the ibis this evening.

Good birding,


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

late Mississippi Kite nest (surprise)

This morning I was standing in the front yard watching the neighborhood Mississippi Kite family hang out in the tree tops in the early morning.  The young of the year are snatching bugs (presumably cicadas) in the air on their own.  Their tails are grown in except for the outermost feathers (half length).  On schedule for departure around month's end.

I noticed a dark blob 45 feet up in a nearby Water Oak, and trained my binoculars on it thinking it might be another perched raptor of some sort.  It was only a gash in the limb- but twenty feet behind it in the same tree, serendipitously in the same field of view in my field glasses, was an adult Mississippi Kite on the edge of a nest, feeding a small downy nestling!  This is only five houses down from where the other kite family is hanging out.

The prey item was something much larger than a cicada- I counted 40 tear-and-feed movements by the adult to the ravenous nestling before tiring of counting.  A quick glimpse of an apparent anuran hind leg makes me fairly sure it was a frog or toad.

It seems clear that this nestling will not be mature enough to depart with the rest of its kin around the end of the month.  It will be interesting to follow its progress.  I suspect this is a re-nesting by the pair that appears to have abandoned a nest in the sycamore behind my house earlier in the summer.


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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fall migration preview- what to expect

We are now in mid-August, and the fall migration is beginning to gain momentum.  Here is what to expect, and what to watch out for in the realm of land birds.

In August the most conspicuous migrant is Yellow Warbler, which is far more in evidence now than in any other month.  They are especially fond of willows and tall ragweed thickets.  Listen for their sharp, sweet chip note.  By month's end, Purple Martins and Mississippi Kites will be almost entirely gone from our skies.

The next migrant to become especially conspicuous will be Eastern Kingbird, which peaks in numbers in a narrow window around the first week of September.  These birds often occur in flocks, on the move in daylight in relatively open environments- often right through residential neighborhoods.  Keep your eyes on the sky.

Early September begins the flood of species coming through headed for the tropics.  Although a few have already reached peak numbers in August, such as Orchard Orioles and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, most will peak this month- including most warblers.  Most male warblers lack their striking spring dress, but some look essentially the same as in spring- such as Black-and-White and Hooded.  From mid-September to mid-October is the best time of the entire year for finding American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and Northern Watherthrush- four of the most common warblers this time of year.  The same is true of Eastern Wood-Pewee, which takes up territories in fall migration and can often be heard making  short whistles and hefty chip notes from an open branch.   Summer and Scarlet Tanagers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are also frequently seen.  Male Scarlets are now greenish, but male Summers are still bright red.   All of these turn up in urban yards with shade trees and (ideally) some understory.  City Park (Couturie Forest) and Audubon Park (along the bayou, or the west side, and in the live oaks everywhere) are also good places to look. 

The last prominent tropic-bound migrants to peak are Gray Catbird and Indigo Bunting, in mid October.  Both bunting sexes are in their subtle brown winter garb.  The ragweed thickets that teemed with Yellow Warblers in August will be taken over by this species, often in flocks.  Often a few Blue Grosbeaks are mixed in (their males stay blue).Catbirds are in these thickets, and also in wooded understory.  They are often revealed by their cat-like mew

As the Indigos are peaking, the first of the waves of species that will winter here begin to arrive.  Eastern Phoebes often put on a show, fussing at each other as they establish winter territories.  They are in open marsh, field, and edge habitats outside the city, and in some open areas within it as well.  Swamp Sparrows arrive and settle into the marshes, but often turn up in the ragweed thickets or even any empty weedy urban lot (often with Common Yellowthroat and sometimes Marsh Wren) when they first arrive.  These same weedy areas will attract other sparrows in late October and November.

Yellow-rumped Warblers build in numbers through November, accompanied by smaller numbers of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Orange-crowned Warblers.  These species will spend the winter, but are often more numerous in November than later.   This may also be the best time to see Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in our urban neighborhoods, since they also carry on vocally and with chase as they set up their winter territories.

Migrants are around more consistently from day to day in New Orleans in fall than in spring, when they have a more severely weather-dependent boom and bust pattern.   Nevertheless, the first morning after a cold front passage is often the time when the most migrants are around; these increase in frequency as the fall progresses and the jet stream shifts closer to us. 

Its going to be a fun next few months!


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Monday, August 12, 2013

Morning notes from the Jefferson batture

Today after dropping my kid off at school, I decided to swing by the batture in Old Jefferson.  UNO is not back in session just yet, why not take advantage of the freedom.

I walked across the levee toward the wood margin, then quickly diverted back to the levee crest to keep my feet (penny loafers, no socks) dry.  At least, delaying the inevitable for a few minutes. 

Four adult White Ibis were probing in the mud along the tree line.

I finally descended at the head of my target trail, an overgrown cut with a slightly trampled footpath.  An adult Red-shouldered Hawk left a low perch on the edge of the marshy pond inside the batture, and coasted away low, class bowed wings with bold black and white bars.  I paused in the shade of a tree, and swished a bit.  Two Carolina Chickadees flitted across the corner of the opening.  Then two Downy Woodpeckers.  Then a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and another behind it that displaced it from its new perch.  Then a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers.  So far, all local nesters.  Then the first migrant- a Yellow Warbler that my noises drew across the marshy opening in my direction.

Most of the birds were moving about with the slight inefficiency/klutziness that usually gives away recently independent young.  I trained my binocs on one Red-bellied- sure enough, unmarked gray head, young bird.  Next I looked at the two Great Cresteds- both had visibly pale gape areas (the inner corner of the mouth- a briefly retained sign of immaturity).  The Downies were both female plumage- age indeterminate.

I walked down the trail, and things got quiet (bird wise- not cicadawise) until I reached its end a hundred yards in.  Suddenly a pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks jumped up from the weedy water's edge making piercing alarm notes.  A herd of eight or so downy young scurried for the water- in my binocs, I could see sharp black head stripes.  The adults continued to bounce about in alarm/feigned injury.  First confirmed nesting in the Jefferson batture, confirming suspicions.

As they retreated to safety in the marsh, I turned around to notice that two trees were covered in trumpet vines, with their showy red flowers.  A nice set up for Ruby-throated Hummingbird this time of year, so I watched for a moment.  Sure enough, in about one minute, a female-type appeared, and immediately engaged another in chase.  These most likely did not breed this far into the city; they could have nested as close as a few miles away in a woodlot nearer the urban periphery, or be passing through from the northern US or even Canada.

As I walked out, I ran into the same flock of woodpeckers and songbirds as I had encountered on the way in.  A bit more swishing brought in a female Cardinal, and a (the same?) Yellow Warbler.  This time I got my glasses on it perched- crisp yellow trim on the wings, pale yellow underparts, pale face with big-eyed look, all features indicating another young of the year.  This bird does not nest any where near here and is strictly a passage migrant- could have been from a more northerly state, or even as far away as the Northwest Territories. 

As I emerged onto the levee lawn, my feet were now already soaked, so I walked back through the dew-laden grass along the wood margin.  The four ibis were still probing, and shuffled a bit away to stay ahead of me.   A bird in the sky over the levee looked like an Anhinga- yes, confirmed with the binocs, but headed away downstream.   An adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron jumped back into the woods, and then sat eyeing me.  An adult Little Blue Heron allowed me to walk up close alongside, and then also jumped up into the trees, dropping a wing feather (like most species, they molt them this time of year).  I pulled off my shoes and waded out into the muck, and grabbed the feather.  I would show it to my kids later, and perhaps to my class next time I talk about remiges (wing feathers).

As I ascended the levee, a Mississippi Kite was making a mad swoop over River Road.  I put my binocs on it as it pulled up, and saw it reach its head down to its feet, probably eating a cicada it had snatched.  A common sight this time of year when kite-watching.  I remembered that these same skies over the residential areas that the kite was in, had a month earlier been filled with Purple Martins. They are one of our earliest species to depart, and are now scarce in nesting areas, not to return until next February or March.

Twenty minutes, but enough nature to put me in a good mood for the morning.


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Friday, August 9, 2013

Morning flight: an overview

One fun aspect of migration in south Louisiana is morning flight, or movements of birds along their migratory journeys in the early morning.  Once you are keyed in to it, you can often see or hear it happening.  This time of year, the main species doing it is Yellow Warbler, our earliest fall songbird to pass through in numbers.

Yellows like to call a lot while engaging in morning flight, a slightly husky ssst.  It is subtle, but if you are alert for it, not uncommon.  Most mornings this time of year, listening at the sky for ten minutes or so will produce one, and sometimes multiples.  This lasts throughout August.  If you look up, you can usually see the little bird flitting overhead, naked eye.  Most are going westward, or some variant thereof.  They are presumed to be migrating around the Gulf of Mexico en route to their wintering grounds in the tropics.  They are coming from a wide geographic range extending across the northern USA and Canada.

Yellows are known to migrate at night as well (like most songbirds do), and we really don't know how much morning flight is continuation of the evening's movement, or fresh movement starting after sunrise.  We don't see it much, if at all, when they come through northbound in spring, at which time they come across the Gulf rather than around it.

There are some places where morning flight becomes concentrated.  Concentrated morning flight can be a really fun spectacle to watch, and so sleuthing out where and when it occurs is a great game.

At this point, the greatest Yellow Warbler concentrations known anywhere are, lucky for us, on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  They happen where the lake shore juts northward to a point (where the bridges leave for Slidell)- called South Point.  At the base of the Hwy 11 bridge, and even better at the base of the railroad bridge to the north, flights can reach 1000 birds in a few hours.  And they probably get bigger than what we have encountered so far. 

These birds fly the "wrong" way for fall, heading north across the lake.  The primary theory as to what is going on is that the birds have been wind displaced onto the coastal marshes, and undertake a retreat into the wind to compensate for this displacement- trying to get back onto their intended flight path.  These flights seem highly dependent on there being a north or northeast wind.  Unfortunately, this wind direction is rare in August, so these big South Point flights are infrequent.

It could well be that, on any day, there are migrants in our area orienting in more than one direction, and which direction you see them moving in depends upon where you are.  That is, which headings of movement tend to be concentrated at your particular vantage point.  For instance, at South Point, you only see northbound birds coming from the south- because there is no land to the west, north, or east for them to come from.   

The reason there are so many heading northbound at South Point is presumed to be that they are reluctant to fly over large expanses of water while struggling into the wind.  So as they retreat from the coast, they run into Lake Pontchartrain, and follow its edge northeastward to South Point, avoiding crossing the water.  At the point, they must cross if they are to continue north- there is no more shoreline to follow northward.  From observations elsewhere, I think that open marsh interfaces (vs. open water) have a similar herding effect.  And many other species of land birds do this- not just Yellows.

In the absence of such concentrating barriers, Yellows seem to just head west over New Orleans in a diffuse flow.  I have twice encountered flights of 100/hour, once at Bucktown and once in Old Jefferson, heading west.  Smaller flights of 10-20/hour are quite common, and again are usually heading approximately west.

Every season I ponder maps of the shoreline configurations in the area, imagining at what other places I might find concentrated flights.  I have often wondered whether westward moving birds would be concentrated by the northeast coast of Lake Pontchartrain, which could squeeze approaching birds (birds passing west through the space stretching from Pearl River to the Rigolets), into a concentrated flow around the lake's northern apex.  A few days ago I had a chance to test this, since I was in Fontainebleu State Park in the early morning.  I took up position on the end of the pier and scanned with my binoculars landward.  Sure enough, a half hour of scanning produced 128 warblers flying by, all headed west.  At this date, and exhibiting this behavior, it is pretty clear they would have to be Yellows, at least the large majority of them.  So it looks like the northern lakeshore may well have a concentrating effect- 128 in 30 min translates to about 250/hour, more than the typical flights south of the lake (excepting at South Point).  And since it is not dependent on uncommon north winds, it may be more regular in occurrence than flights at South Point.

Another piece in a fascinating puzzle.  Later in the fall more species come through that also fly substantial distances in the early morning and thus have the potential to produce big counts- Eastern Kingbirds, Indigo Buntings, Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Robins, and Cedar Waxwings.  Some of these have produced flights of tens of thousands in a few hours at South Point. They are always accompanied by other species in smaller numbers, adding diversity to picture.

Good birding,


for a copy of Birding Made Easy- New Orleans, email me at, or look for it at the Maple Street or Garden District Book Shops.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kenner wader roost notes

I visited the Kenner evening wader roost last night.  The count:
60 White Ibis
20 Tricolored Heron
20 Little Blue Heron
10 Snowy Egret
10 Great Egret
1 Anhinga

The most striking thing was the prevalence of immatures- about 85% of the White Ibis were birds hatched this year (vs. overwhelmingly adults on my visits to the Monticello and Lafreniere Park roosts).  Tricoloreds and Little Blues were mainly birds of the year as well.

The mottley crew of waterfowl had two hen American Wigeons and an American Coot among the frankenfowl.  Their status (wild/captive) was unclear.

This and other wader roosts are described on p. 8-9 in Birding Made Easy.


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Monday, August 5, 2013

Final word on the UNO Least Terns

The nesting group of Least Terns atop Milneburg Hall at UNO, a new location this year, has now finished its activities.  Or so it appears, with no birds evident on my two visits last week.

Sadly, the two dozen or so nests produced only 2-3 young that made it off the building.   The reasons for the poor success are unclear, but predation is most likely.  I did not see any predators at the colony, but crows would be a prime suspect because of their presence in the area.

I hope they return next year and give it another try!


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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Thousands of gulls roosting in Elmwood parking lots

The Elmwood area Laughing Gull roost has reformed, but with a twist- the birds are now roosting at night in the shopping center parking lots instead of on rooftops.

I estimated about 5000 gulls this evening, driving through the parking lots from 10:30-11:00 pm.  The main gatherings were 2000 in the Elwood Shopping Center parking lot, and another 2000 in the Academy Sports parking lot.  There were smaller numbers in the Home Depot and AMC Elmwood Theater parking lots.  Nothing in the Walmart parking lot, but there were still cars there (they close at 11 pm).

In previous years, this roost has spent the early part of the evening shifting from roof to roof, and seemed to often (always?) eventually settle for the night on the Walmart roof, from which they made an impressive exodus in the morning.  Last year a pair of local observers estimated 60,000, during the early evening staging, later in the season.   Numbers are presumably just now starting to build for this fall.

In October last year, Wal Mart put wires on their roof to deter the birds, and Academy began using a taped raptor call.  The House of Shock also began its usual pyrotechnics that month, and it was not clear which of these factors caused them to abandon the area around Halloween (which they also did the year before sans efforts to deter them, apparently due to the House of Shock alone). 

The birds will mess up these parking lots fairly quickly with feathers and excretia.  It could be really interesting to watch how this situation develops, and the shopping center owners handle it.

The Elmwood roost is described on p. 14-15 of Birding Made Easy- New Orleans (which I entitled The Ghosts of Elmwood- but this year's situation has notched up the freakishness, with the birds milling back and forth in the dim parking lot security lights).


for a copy of Birding Made Easy- New Orleans, email me at, or look for it at the Garden District or Maple Street Book Shops.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

More Mississippi Kites out of the nest

Yesterday I looked out the window to see two kites flying oddly adjacent one another at low altitude, across the street from my house.  I grabbed the binoculars and stepped outside, and saw that one was a juvenile-  distinguishable by the banded tail.  Apparently receiving some tutoring.

I have been seeing the parents for weeks; I believe they moved there from the sycamore behind my house, which seems to have a disshevelled (abandoned early) nest.  They seem to have started there, but moved across the street.

There are so many Mississippi Kites in the skies of New Orleans now, it is hard to drive far without seeing some.  Today I took one scan with binocs from a building at UNO, and spied seven in the air in scattered directions.

They are one of our first birds to leave for the fall- believe it or not, our city will be essentially kite-free by month's end.


for a copy of Birding Made Easy-New Orleans, email me at, or look for it at the Maple Street or Garden District Book Shops.