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WILD LIFE CONSERVATION ALONG THE GULF COAST 43
portions, and the state has done little to stay the hand of the gunners.
these, Marsh Island, 77,000 acres in extent, was purchased by Mrs. Russell Sage, and set aside as a bird sanctuary. This was in 1912. Two years later the Rockefeller Foundation purchased a tract of 86,000 acres a few miles to the west of it, and declared it to be a bird sanctuary for all time. Mr. Edward A. McIlhenny, who was responsible for both of these purchases, together with Charles Willis Ward, bought and set aside another reservation of 57,000 acres of marshland. These three tracts, carefully guarded at all times, constitute the most important refuges for wild life in the southern states.
Few birds along the Gulf Coast are now killed for the feather trade, with the exception of the egrets. Thanks to the wardens of the Audubon Societies and the Louisiana conservation guards, egging as a business is a thing of the past, and as we have already seen, the killing of ducks in their winter haven, Louisiana, is now carefully regulated.
Thus Louisiana, at one time a slaughter pen for wild life second only to the state of Florida, is today occupying an enviable position among the states that are intelligently conserving their wild life.
There remains but one state along the Gulf Coast to mention, that is Texas. From the standpoint of the sea-bird life, which consists of gulls, terns, herons, and pelicans, this region is today not an important one, for the bird life that was once abundant has been reduced to extremely small pro
It was shown that one more silly prejudice against our wild life was without foundation when, this summer, the food of the brown pelican was investigated at the request of the United States Food Administration (for details see page 40). As I sailed along parts of the Gulf Coast where twenty years ago water birds were found by tens of thousands and saw how scarce, in many regions, they are today, I was impressed anew with the possibility of destruction which man may work with the helpless wild life of a country, and I felt again how tremendously important it is that the present generation should do all within its power to save the remnant of the wild life along our beautiful southern coast.
Photograph by Alfred M. Bailey
Mr. T. Gilbert Pearson, secretary of the National Association of Audubon Societies, making a practical investigation of the food of the brown pelican (compare with photograph, page 61). For details regarding the recent demand of fishermen for the extermination of the brown pelicans, and the results of the investigation by Mr. Pearson, see page 40
SUMMER "SNOW FIELDS" OF TERNS
The Cabot terns (Sterna sandvicensis acuflarida) are smaller than the royal terns, more slender and graceful, and of a more affectionate disposition with one another. They are beautiful birds with silverpearl wings, eyes of piercing blackness, crests of jet, and dark bills tipped with yellow-truly little "doves" of the sea.
These terns have been especially persecuted in the past by the feather hunters and had become almost extinct when Louisiana, in conjunction with the Federal Government, the National Association of Audubon Societies, and various private individuals interested in bird protection, undertook to conserve the state's bird life on an extensive scale. Bird refuges have now been established throughout Louisiana and on the outlying islands, and a state board of commissioners1 has been inaugurated to promote the protec tion of wild life. During the winter Louisiana is a haven for more water birds than any other two states of the Union, and in recent years she has occupied the enviable position of being one of the most conscientious protectors of her feathered guests
1 See note at bottom of following page.
OUISIANA is so situated geographically and has conditions so favorable for bird life that she stands foremost among the bird states of the Union. The great hordes of wild fowl from the frozen North, using the Mississippi Valley as a migration route, find a place of refuge and a source of food supply that have no equal in any other state, and each spring when these winter guests again return to their nesting grounds at the North, veritable "snow fields" of whitewinged terns and other beautiful sea
birds arrive from farther south to take their places as her summer residents.
In years gone by, this state was the slaughter ground of the plume and wing hunters, but today Louisiana has under her protection more than three hundred thousand acres of land and salt marsh given over entirely as places of refuge for wild life. Wardens patrol these areas continually, so that the large numbers of waterfowl shall be unmolested.
Among early attempts at conservation in Louisiana was that of Mr. E. A.
1 Illustrations from a series of remarkable bird photographs by E. A. McIlhenny, Stanley C. Arthur, and Alfred M. Bailey.
NOTE. This state board is at present under the leadership of Mr. M. L. Alexander, and is doing a good work. Game laws are not sufficient. Public sentiment has a great deal to do with enforcing laws, and the State Department of Conservation and the Louisiana State Museum have been conducting an educational campaign by means of motion pictures and exhibits of wild life showing economic and æsthetic values. In a state so cut up with waterways and impassable swamps, it would be very difficult to protect all places desired without this aid from the people as a whole. To carry on the work the department has eighteen patrol boats and a force of more than one hundred men. The men chosen for the work are those who chance to have their homes in the area to be protected. They are therefore familiar with the conditions of the region and are able to be on hand at all times.
McIlhenny, the well-known sportsman and conservationist, when he started his famous Avery Island heronry. This wonderful bird paradise is on a little pond of scarcely two acres, which was made by damming a small creek. Nesting places were provided by planting scrub willow and buttonbush. In the swamps near by, Mr. McIlhenny captured eight snowy herons, or egrets, a species which was at that time nearly extinct in this state because of the ravages of the plume hunters. During the summer and fall months he kept these egrets in captivity along the edge of his little pond. He visited them daily and they soon grew tame. When the other birds started their return south Mr. McIlhenny gave his pets their liberty. They stayed around the pond for several days and then joined the others on their southern journey. In the spring, however, five birds returned and two pairs built their nests in the scrubby trees and reared their young in safety. That fall eleven of them migrated to their southern home; nine returned in the spring, and several young were raised.
To increase the number of egrets Mr. McIlhenny resorted to many experiments. As the little blue herons lay eggs similar to those of the egrets and as their young are also white, he transferred egrets' eggs to the herons' nests. When the egrets missed their eggs, they again laid, so that two broods were obtained in place of one.
From that time on these snowy herons increased rapidly. Other species joined them until today the little pond has a wealth of bird life that can be equaled by few other places of similar size.
I had heard of this little haven for birds many times and expected to find a wild, inaccessible swamp, but contrary to my expectations, I found the heronry snuggling at the foot of the rolling hills of Avery, a most unnatural place for birds,-for there is a factory
within one hundred yards, with busy factory folk hurrying to and fro, and a railroad runs along the edge of the pond, the birds nesting within thirty feet of it. Indeed, the birds do not even rise as the trains go by. And these are the same birds that go out daily to feed in the swamps and there will not allow man to approach closer than several hundred yards. Such is the response of birds to protection!
On the great wild fowl refuges of Louisiana a development of natural colonies is going on under the protection afforded. These areas are carefully guarded and thousands of black mallards and other summer birds breed here each year. The last stand of the roseate spoonbill in Louisiana is in the western part of the state at Cameron Parish, truly a wonderful sight in June. when we visited it-and yet pitiful. We traveled along the Intercoastal Canal to Black Bayou, a weird, beautiful stream with its gnarled, moss-hung cypresses, and paddled down the little side stream in pirogues. We counted 287 spoonbills clustered in the tops of the cypress trees, their pink colors showing against the green with all the freshness of peach blossoms in springtime. These few birds are all that are left of the large colonies which once gave color to the southern swamps.
The year 1917 was very dry, and the spoonbills did not nest along the bayou, but they were building during our visit, and it is reported they had a very successful season. Their warden was formerly a market shooter and alligator hunter-yet he efficiently protected the birds, and although he could neither read nor write, he could obey orders. One day some men came down from a town near by to "shoot out" the birds as they had been accustomed to do. As they were approaching, the warden paddled up in his pirogue, shoved his gun in the ribs of the nearest man, and then asked their business. They "allowed" they were going to kill
THE DOWNY YOUNG OF THE CABOT AND ROYAL TERNS
The royal terns (Sterna maxima) nest so close together that it would seem no space can be found for another bird, yet the birds
seem to have not the least doubt as to