For migratory birds, Louisiana is the southern terminus along the Mississippi Flyway, providing important stopover habitat during spring and fall migration, and serves as a critical link between North American breeding grounds and wintering areas in Latin America. In addition, many flocking birds, like ducks and geese, winter in Louisiana. And of course, many specialized birds like Clapper Rails, Reddish Egrets, and Black Skimmers spend their whole lives in coastal wetlands, beaches and islands.
Between 2006 and 2010, the Important Bird Areas Program in Louisiana, led by Louisiana's IBA Coordinator, Melanie Driscoll, identified 23 IBAs across the state of Louisiana, encompassing 17,623,352 acres (27,536 square miles). These IBAs have been evaluated by a technical committee of experts in the birds and habitats of Louisiana, and identify critical breeding, wintering, and stopover habitat for dozens of bird species of conservation concern. Data that support IBA nomination come from a variety of sources, including universities, private researchers, state and federal agencies, and citizen scientists.
Audubon is focusing its conservation efforts in several of Louisiana's coastal IBAs, including the Chenier Plain IBA, where Audubon's Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary protects 26,000 acres of coastal marshes. Additionally, our work to reconnect the Mississippi River to its delta through coastal restoration initiatives is vital for the long-term health of many IBAs. Meanwhile, on-the-ground research and stewardship of beach-nesting birds and Prothonotary Warblers is providing increased breeding success and revealing new insights into the migration of these conservation priority species. With landowners, volunteers, private, state, and federal partners, we also provide outreach and education about habitats and bird populations, conduct research to understand the value of habitats for birds, and lead conservation planning and implementation initiatives.