St. Mary

Jan 20, 2014 11:57 AM by MELISSA CANONE

9th Annual Eagle Expo & More

MORGAN CITY - The 9th Annual Eagle Expo and More, scheduled February 20 - 22, 2014, in Morgan City, Louisiana, will feature seminars from wildlife and nature experts, a live raptor presentation, boat tours to view eagles, and opportunities to meet fellow birders.

Heading into its ninth successful year, the Eagle Expo is a tribute to the return of the American Bald Eagle to Louisiana, which was removed from the endangered species list in June 2007. Laws banning the use of harmful pesticides such as DDT and greater public awareness and education have increased the bald eagle population throughout Louisiana and the United States. Currently, there are 284 active nests in Louisiana with a large concentration in the St. Mary and Terrebonne Parish areas.

This year's Expo will include a presentation by WINGS to SOAR on Thursday, February 20th, from 6 - 7:30 pm at the Patterson Civic Center. This presentation is a lively and informational presentation showcasing a variety of live raptors including a Falcon, Hawk, Owl, Black Vulture and Bald Eagle. Private schools, parochial schools and home schooled students will have the opportunity to attend a WINGS to SOAR presentation, Wednesday, February 19th at the Patterson Civic Center at 10 am. There is no charge to attend, but reservations are required. WINGS to SOAR will also visit the following schools: Franklin Junior High, Morgan City Junior High, Berwick Junior High, and Patterson Junior High.

A photography workshop taught by renowned wildlife photographer C.C. Lockwood will be held on Friday, February 21, 2014. C.C. Lockwood is known for his numerous publications and books, especially his eleventh book, Marsh Mission, which brought attention to the crisis of the vanishing Gulf Coast wetlands. His photography has been featured in prominent publications such as the Smithsonian Magazine and National Geographic Magazine. The workshop includes a seminar at 9 am at the Atchafalaya at Idlewild Golf Course's Club House, with a field trip to Bayou Black beginning at 12 noon. A boat tour in Bayou Black will focus on birding and marsh landscapes. The workshop requires separate registration and payment of $195.00. Contact C.C. Lockwood at www.cclockwood.com or call 225-769-4766 to register. Space is limited.

Tours to view eagles will take place Friday, February 21st and Saturday, February 22nd. Featured waterways include the Atchafalaya Basin, Bayou Black, Turtle Bayou and Bayou Long. Tours will be at 9 - 11 am and 1 - 3 pm on Friday, and 9 - 11 am and 2:30 - 4 pm on Saturday. Each featured boat tour offers something different to attendees.

The Atchafalaya Basin is the largest overflow swamp in the U.S. with 10 distinct aquatic & terrestrial habitats. Home to over 170 bird species, 50 mammalian species, 40 reptilian, 20 amphibian species and 100 species of fin fish and shellfish, the basin offers more than just eagles.

The Bayou Black Tour meanders through old oil and gas canals. Birds of prey including Bald Eagles, Ospreys and various species of hawks call this place home. Other birds likely to be encountered include various species of ducks, wading birds and song bird species.

The Turtle Bayou Tour includes two small natural bayous that provide for fantastic views and local wildlife. Aside from eagles other birds likely to be encountered include Anhingas, Double-crested Cormorants, Red-shouldered Hawks, White Ibis, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Carolina Chickadees and various species of terns and gulls.

The Bayou Long Tour includes various waterways including Lake Verret, Bayou Magazille, Fourmile Bayou, Grassy Lake, Bayou Cherami, Bayou Milhomme, and Lake Palourde. On this tour you will be able to view Bald Eagles and their nests, Blue Heron, Great Egret, Belted Kingfisher, White Ibis, and various species of birds.

Friday evening will feature a dinner and a presentation, Nature Photography & Writing, by Kathy and Gary Clark, at the Petroleum Club of Morgan City from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. This presentation is part of the Educational Series sponsored by the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, a program of the National Park Service, and the Office of Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne. Programs in the series increase awareness and appreciation of the natural, historic and cultural resources of the Heritage Area. Presentations are posted at www.atchafalaya.org. Kathy Adams Clark has been a professional nature photographer since 1995. Her photos have been published in many places including AAA Journey, Nature's Best, New York Times, Birder's World, Family Fun, and numerous books and calendars. Kathy is the past president of the North American Nature Photography Association. She teaches photography and is a popular speaker at local and national events. She leads photo workshops to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Africa, Italy, Peru and Morocco through Strabo Tours. Along with the many publications her photos have been featured in, every week her photos appear in the "Nature" column in the Houston Chronicleand San Antonio Express News written by her husband, Gary Clark. Gary has published featured articles in state and national magazines and has written four books including Texas Wildlife Portfolio, Texas Gulf Coast Impressions, Backroads of the Texas Hill Country, and Enjoying Big Bend National Park. He has won eight writing awards and is the recipient of the 2004 Excellence in Media Award and the 2010 Synergy Media Award for Environmental Reporting. Gary has been active in the birding community for over 35 years. He founded the Piney Woods Wildlife Society in 1982 and founded the Texas Coast Rare Bird Alert in 1983. He currently sits on the Board of Advisors for the Houston Audubon Society and Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and is a professor at Lone Star College. Together, Kathy and Gary have published six books and have one more in the works that combine their photography and writing skills. Cost is $35.00 per person.

Saturday, February 22nd, will feature a variety of speakers in the morning with boat tours in the afternoon. Speakers for the morning seminars will include: Michael Sealy - "Louisiana and the American Bald Eagle," Bill Clark - "Eagle Quest," Jane Patterson - "Birds of the Atchafalaya," and Dr. Aaron Pierce - "Breeding Waterbirds on Louisiana's Barrier Islands."

Michael Sealy works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as a Threatened and Endangered Species Biologist specializing in consultation for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and the threatened gopher tortoise. He is also the national species lead for the Louisiana pine snake, a Candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, he manages Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act issues in Louisiana ranging from technical assistance, habitat impact assessment, mitigation and enforcement for bald eagles. Prior to his work at the USFWS, he worked as a coastal wetlands ecologist both as a private consultant and for the Louisiana Office of Coastal Restoration and Protection collecting ecological data used to assess coastal restoration projects related to CWPPRA and Mississippi River Diversions near New Orleans. While working on his degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Management at LSU, he conducted research on the Louisiana black bear in coastal Louisiana compiling habitat data by capturing and tracking bears from Morgan City to Avery Island.

Bill Clarkis a photographer, author, researcher, and lecturer and has over 50 years experience working with birds of prey, including 5 years as Director of NWF's Raptor Information Center. He has published numerous articles on raptor subjects; has traveled extensively world-wide studying, observing, and photographing raptors; and regularly leads raptor and birding tours and workshops, both home and abroad, with his company, Raptours. He regularly teaches evening and weekend courses on raptor field identification and biology, including for the World Birding Center and Valley Nature Center, and frequently presents lectures on raptor subjects. He has written a raptor field guide for Europe, and is writing others for Africa, Mexico and Central America. He is coauthor of the Photographic Guide to North American Raptors and the completely revised Peterson series guide, Hawks.

Jane Pattersonis the current President of Baton Rouge Audubon Society, as well as the Education chair. She is still fairly new to birding, with just 8 years under her belt, but has gotten into it in a big way, especially from the educational perspective. Jane has started a bird club for kids in Baton Rouge, Kids Who Bird, and also teaches beginning bird classes for adults through the LSU Leisure Class system. She was honored at the National Audubon Conference in July 2013 with the Dutcher Award for outstanding service by an Audubon Chapter leader for her efforts in bird related education. During the day she is the Director for the State Office of Telecommunication Management, the phone company and internet provider for state government.

Dr. Aaron Pierce is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Graduate Program Coordinator for the Master's in Marine and Environmental Biology program at Nicholls State University. Dr. Pierce received his Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Tennessee in 2005 and M.S. in Ecology from Purdue University in 2001. Dr. Pierce's research focuses on wetland ecology and avian ecology to help improve the management and conservation of avian species and wetland systems.

Full registration includes the seminars Saturday morning, breakfast Saturday morning, a t-shirt, one boat tour, and the WINGS to SOAR presentation on Thursday evening. Registration fees start at $110 for adults and $60 for children for full registration. On day registration starts at $85 for adults and $50 for children includes seminars, one boat tour, and Saturday breakfast. Boat tours only start at $55 for adults and $35 for children.

The Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau has partnered with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, LSU Museum of Natural Science, Conrad Industries, Johnny's Propeller Shop, the Audubon Society, LUMCON, America's Wetland Foundation, Buquet Distributing, B & G Foods, Louisiana Office of Tourism, and the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area to showcase not only the American Bald Eagle, but the numerous species of birds and wildlife found within the Atchafalaya Basin and surrounding areas.

For a complete event schedule, costs, registration forms and listings of hotel rates, contact the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau at 985-395-4905, visit online at www.cajuncoast.com/eagleexpo or email info@cajuncoast.com.

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