As many as two billion migratory birds make their annual flight across the Gulf of Mexico every Spring, and one popular place to see those colorful tropical birds is Grand Isle. Located in Louisiana, this barrier island is a crucial stopover for the birds’ spring migration.
The Lafitte Woods Preserve, a 58-acre strip of coastal forest owned by the Nature Conservancy, is ground zero for bird watching. According to Delaina LeBlanc, a researcher with the Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary Program, Grand Isle is unique in its oak habitat in Louisiana. She says, “It’s the only barrier island that I know of that has this type of habitat”.
grand isle’s migratory birds featured on tv
The Audubon Society placed large nets along the trails of the Lafitte Woods to briefly capture some of the migratory birds. The captured birds are examined, measured, weighed, banded and then released back into the wild. The variety of colorful birds that are snagged in the first couple of hours is amazing. The most stunning are the bright yellow Kentucky warbler, the deep blue indigo bunting, a bright orange colored summer tanager, and the multi-colored painted bunting. Erik Johson of the Audubon Society says these are some of the most gorgeous birds on the planet. He calls them, “The candy birds, because they’re all the colors of the Skittles rainbow”.
colorful migratory birds
birders are welcome
Jean Landry, a Grand Isle resident and member of The Nature Conservancy, says the annual Grand Isle Migratory Bird Festival is quite popular. She estimates that throughout the year, as many as 2,500 to 5,000 bird enthusiasts flock to this Louisiana barrier island. It’s best to start a day of birdwatching in the morning.
a beautiful sunrise over the gulf
For those looking to spot the migratory birds, patience is key. As Delaina LeBlanc advises, “If you see the movement and you have binoculars, don’t move your eyes.” It’s best to raise the binoculars to your eyes without looking away from a bird. The Lafitte Woods Preserve is not only a haven for birds, but it’s also a sanctuary for visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.
2023 Migratory bird celebration
The annual Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration will take place April 14-15, 2023. A good place to start your day on the island is the Lafitte Woods Preserve. You can also spend time on the beach and enjoy flights of brown pelicans, gulls and shorebirds. Click here to see the schedule of events.