May 23, 2016 – Thanks to a grant from the Shell Marine Habitat Program through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has completed restoration of the Bayou Platte Waterbird Rookery at Marsh Island Refuge.
LDWF celebrated the accomplishment Monday by holding a small celebration at the colony on Marsh Island Refuge.
Located in Iberia Parish between Vermilion Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Marsh Island is home to two island rookeries which make up the Bayou Platte Waterbird Colony. These two islands are the only colonial seabird rookeries in the Vermilion/Cote Blanche Bay complex.
This year marks the first nesting season since the restoration of the islands was completed, and the rookeries are already proving to be very productive. This season an estimated 2,000 nesting pairs of birds have taken up residence on the rookeries, which far exceeds the project goal of 500 nesting pairs.
“This project has created and restored the largest artificial nesting islands in coastal Louisiana and provides nesting opportunities for species of conservation need,’’ said Todd Baker, the director of LDWF’s Coastal and Nongame Resources Division who oversees coastal operations and habitat conservation. “Our surveys indicate many waterbird species utilize these rookeries, many of which are Species of Greatest Conservation Need as identified in the Louisiana Wildlife Action Plan.’’
The two rookeries were originally built in the early 1990s but by 2012 were in poor shape due to subsidence and erosion. The restoration project began in August of 2013 through May 2014 when bird nesting activities halted construction to avoid disturbing nesting birds. Construction resumed after nesting season in November of 2014 and was completed last year.
Bird surveys during and after construction indicated heavy use by black skimmers, gull-billed terns, Forster’s terns, least terns, laughing gulls among other waterbird species.
This summer marks the 26th anniversary of the creation of the nesting islands. This was the first nesting season after restoration was completed. Biologists estimate that within the last 10 years, more than 10,000 nesting birds utilized these islands.
For more information, contact Tyson Crouch at 337-373-0032 or email@example.com.