Did you know Audubon Nature Institute was named after the famed ornithologist John James Audubon? He studied and painted pictures of birds as well as studied their natural habitats throughout his career. He also published The Birds of America, a four-volume book including information of over 700 different bird species in North America. His work helped the world understand more about the anatomies and behaviors of birds.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, about 45 million people go birdwatching while traveling or sitting in their backyards. National Audubon Day is coming up, and what better way than to celebrate at a local conservatory or park. Here are five spots to go birdwatching on Tuesday, April 26.
First up is City Park. Boasting 1,300 acres of land, this iconic spot is an outdoor amusement park of attractions, exhibits, greenery, waterways, and wildlife. Walk through Couturie Forest, which is home to eight unique ecosystems. Visit the Birding Corridor where you'll understand the relationship between birds and humans and the need for keeping their ecosystems intact. Get the kids to appreciate birds and their natural environment early by taking them to the Louisiana Children's Museum. You'll encounter about 280 different types of birds along the way, including brown pelicans, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and double-crested cormorants. 1 Palm Dr., 504-482-4888, neworleanscitypark.com
Next up, visit the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. This reserve is part of neighboring Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne and has an assortment of freshwater, brackish, and estuarine marshes, lagoons, canals, and bayous. There, you can go fishing, hiking, hunting, and boating. The reserve is rich with abundant wildlife, including approximately 340 species of birds, such as roseate spoonbills, red-winged blackbirds, and turkey vultures. 61389 Hwy. 434, Lacombe, 985-882-2000, fws.gov
Fontainebleau State Park
Cross the Causeway and you'll find yourself in Fontainebleau State Park, found along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. With 2,800 acres of land along with two hiking trails, multi-colored sailboats, water playgrounds, and plenty of areas for fishing, paddling, and cycling, it's one of the best parks in the state to take the family camping. It's home to 400 kinds of wildlife, including birds such as blue jays, tree swallows, and chimney swifts. 62883 Hwy. 1089, Mandeville, 985-624-4443, lastateparks.com
Audubon Louisiana Nature Center
Situated in the middle of New Orleans East, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center has three nature trails, each with different walking distances and ecosystems. You'll meet all sorts of native wildlife along the way, including great egrets, summer tanagers, and bald eagles. 11000 Lake Forest Blvd., 504-861-2537, audubonnatureinstitute.org
Gators and Ghosts
Last but not least, go on a swamp tour at Gators and Ghosts. Choose from two different adventures: Airboat Swamp Tours where you'll get to see alligators, turtles, and nutria on a wild, bumpy ride led by fearless captains, or Pontoon Boat Swamp Tours for a more laidback, gentle experience. Expect to see pelicans, egrets, and owls on either tour. 728 St. Louis St., 888-481-8188, gatorsandghosts.com