Birding in Couturie Forest

Couturie Forest is a small 33 acre preserve enveloped within the lagoon system of New Orlean’s City Park.  The established plant communities sustained heavy damage after Hurricane Katrina, and invasive species began to take over the forest.  A Master Plan for the forest was drawn up by a local LA firm – Spackman, Mossop + Michaels – to eradicate invasives, establish new plant communities, and pave-out trail systems.  Parts of the plan have been achieved and are very successful- such as the new tree plantings, a soft, natural trail system (great for sneaking up on birds), and a circular deck atop the highest elevation in the forest.  The forest itself is a myriad of plant communities and is beautiful in the informality and wild-like state of its plantings and infrastructure.  It is the perfect place for birding, with the many vegetation types intermingling and forming margin habitats- areas where birds are promised a variety of food and shelter.  The birds also took to the edges of the small lanes that were clear cut to plant new trees.

A list of birds spotted in the forest can be found at City Park’s website: http://neworleanscitypark.com/birding.html
Some of the birds which were spied on this outing are:
American Kestrel
Red Shouldered Hawk
Great Horned Owl
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
White Ibis
Black Crowned Nightheron
Great Blue Heron
Ring Billed Gull
Brown Pelican
Double Crested Cormorant
Anhinga
Mallard Duck
Wood Duck
Ring Neck Duck
Green Winged Teal
Canadian Goose
Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Hairy Woodpecker
Tree Swallow
American Robin
White Throated Sparrow
House Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
American Crow
Hermit Thrush
Brown Thrasher
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Pine Warbler
Orange Crowned Warbler
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Blue Jay
Northern Cardinal
Northern Mockingbird
Grey Catbird
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher

Some of the more uncommon birds seen were the Brown Creeper, which was shimmying up an Oak, and what seemed to be a Pyrrhuloxia.  New Orleans, La would be a huge vagrancy for Pyrrhuloxia but one can never tell with the dry, drought-like conditions in Texas and West Louisiana.  This bird was foraging in the grasses and weedy areas of the park and looked different from the female cardinal because of the distinct red marking around the beak, crown, chest and wings.  Possible juvenile Cardinal- but don’t those molt and grow adult plumage by the Fall?

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