This is the first such designation by the Audubon Society in Louisiana.
The largest remaining tract of bottomland hardwood forest in the United States, the Atchafalaya Basin was named an IBA due to its vital importance for breeding populations of Northern Parula, Kentucky, Prothonotary, Swainson’s and yellow-throated warblers, as well as swallow-tailed kites and the colorful and near-threatened painted bunting. It is also a migratory stopover site for globally important concentrations of up to 2,000 wood storks in the fall.
The site is visited by hundreds of birders annually, as well as numerous hunters and anglers.
In addition to being national Step Outside Day, May 10 was International Migratory Bird Day.
The Important Bird Area program was began by Bird Life International in the late 1980s as a way of recognizing and ultimately conserving land that is vital to the health and survival of birds. As Bird Life International’s official U.S. partner, Audubon spearheads the program here, with more than 2,000 IBAs already identified in more than 40 states.
National Audubon Society’s Important Bird Areas program identifies significant bird habitat across Louisiana based on data reviewed by a technical committee of 18 experts using peer-reviewed scientific criteria. The IBA Program is a voluntary effort to help willing private and public land managers provide the best stewardship practices for bird conservation on their property. It is a non-regulatory program providing sound scientific information to help build conservation partnerships.
Step Outside is a national program administered by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to increase participation in outdoor sports. This year’s event included fishing, archery, boating, target and trap shooting, wood crafts construction, nature photography, raptors, bird watching and decoy painting.
Step Outside Day is open to all children and adults, but is targeted to those with special needs.
For further information on the National Audubon Society of Louisiana’s Important Bird Areas program contact Melanie Driscoll, Important Bird Areas Program Coordinator, Louisiana Bird Resource Center, c/o LSU Museum of Natural Science, 119 Foster Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. Or call (225) 938-7209.