The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host a Wood Stork and Wading Bird Event on Saturday, July 20 from 7 a.m. to noon at the South Farm on Sherburne Wildlife Management Area.â€¨ â€¨Wood storks and other wading and shore birds will be viewable in the South Farm's water management units that include a number of large moist soil impoundments.â€¨
The habitat also provides an abundance of small fish and enough crawfish toâ€¨support a public crawfishing area in the spring and summer.â€¨ â€¨The wood stork is native to North America. These large wading birds that can grow to four feet tall with a 66-inch wingspan are an indicator of the health of our nation's wetlands. As wetlands disappear, the wood stork population is affected. Even though many of these birds are from Mexico, water management units such as the South Farm are becoming more critical to the survival of these birds.â€¨ â€¨
With only a few thousand of these birds left, this event will provide a great opportunity for bird watchers, photographers and anyone who enjoys wildlife to see a largeâ€¨concentration of birds. In addition to the storks, the habitat contains alligators, Whitetail deer and many other species of birds that may be observed as well. Biologists and birding enthusiasts will be on hand to discuss the management of the area, identification of animals, and the wood stork species.â€¨ â€¨
The South Farm impoundments are drawn down in the mid-summer to enhance growth of wetland plants for wintering waterfowl. This process can take nearly a month due to the size of the impoundments and the management strategy to provide mud flats and very shallow water with concentrated prey for species including shorebirds (sandpipers) and wading birds (egrets, herons, spoonbills, storks, and ibises).â€¨ â€¨
These same impoundment areas are flooded in the fall to provide habitat for water birds with emphasis on waterfowl.â€¨
â€¨Participants are advised to arrive early on July 20 for the greatest opportunity to see the wood storks. There is no event fee associated with this program, but LDWF wildlife management area regulations require all who use the site, between the ages of 16 and 60, to have either a valid Louisiana hunting or fishing license or a Wild Louisiana Stamp. These licenses are available from any vendor selling LDWF licenses, or on-line viaâ€¨https://www.la.wildlifelicense.com/start.php
or by phone at 1-888-765-2602.â€¨ â€¨
Driving directions to the South Farm: Take I-10 to the Ramah exit (Exit 135); drive north and take the first road to the left; turn right by the closed market on Mimms Street; cross the bridge and turn right on the lower Atchafalaya Levee road. Please note this is a gravel road. Proceed approximately one mile until you see the South Farm" sign. Cross over the levee and enter the parking lot. Event staff will be there to provide you with additional information.â€¨ â€¨For more information on this program, please call the LDWF Wildlife Division Opelousas field office at 337-948-0255.