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WILD LIFE CONSERVATION ALONG THE GULF COAST
these, Marsh Island, 77,000 acres in portions, and the state has done little extent, was purchased by Mrs. Russell to stay the hand of the gunners. Sage, and set aside as a bird sanctuary. Few birds along the Gulf Coast are This was in 1912. Two years later the now killed for the feather trade, with Rockefeller Foundation purchased a the exception of the egrets. Thanks to tract of 86,000 acres a few miles to the the wardens of the Audubon Societies west of it, and declared it to be a bird and the Louisiana conservation guards, sanctuary for all time. Mr. Edward egging as a business is a thing of the A. McIlhenny, who was responsible for past, and as we have already seen, the both of these purchases, together with killing of ducks in their winter haven, Charles Willis Ward, bought and set Louisiana, is now carefully regulated. aside another reservation of 57,000 It was shown that one more silly acres of marshland.
These three tracts, prejudice against our wild life was carefully guarded at all times, consti- without foundation when, this summer, tute the most important refuges for the food of the brown pelican was inveswild life in the southern states.
tigated at the request of the United Thus Louisiana, at time States Food Administration (for deslaughter pen for wild life second only tails see page 40). As I sailed along to the state of Florida, is today occupy- parts of the Gulf Coast where twenty ing an enviable position among the years ago water birds were found by states that are intelligently conserving tens of thousands and saw how scarce, their wild life.
in many regions, they are today, I was There remains but one state along impressed anew with the possibility of the Gulf Coast to mention, that is destruction which man may work with Texas. From the standpoint of the the helpless wild life of a country, and sea-bird life, which consists of gulls, I felt again how tremendously importerns, herons, and pelicans, this region tant it is that the present generation is today not an important one, for the should do all within its power to save bird life that was once abundant has the remnant of the wild life along our been reduced to extremely small pro- 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
Photograph by Alfred M. Bailey SUMMER "SNOW FIELDS" OF TERNS The Cabot terns (Sterna sandvicensis acusavida) are smaller than the royal terns, more slender and graceful, and of a more affectionate disposition with one another. They are beautiful birds with silver. pearl 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 protection 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 geo- birds arrive from farther south to take
graphically and has conditions their places as her summer residents. Iso favorable for bird life that In years gone by, this state was the she stands foremost among the bird slaughter ground of the plume and states of the Union. The great hordes wing hunters, but today Louisiana has of wild fowl from the frozen North, under her protection more than three using the Mississippi Valley as a migra- hundred thousand acres of land and tion route, find a place of refuge and a salt marsh given over entirely as places source of food supply that have no of refuge for wild life. Wardens patrol equal in any other state, and each these areas continually, so that the spring when these winter guests again large numbers of waterfowl shall be unreturn to their nesting grounds at the molested. North, veritable “snow fields" of white- Among early attempts at conservawinged terns and other beautiful sea tion 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 within one hundred yards, with busy and conservationist, when he started his factory folk hurrying to and fro, and a famous Avery Island heronry. This railroad runs along the edge of the wonderful bird paradise is on a little pond, the birds nesting within thirty pond of scarcely two acres, which was feet of it. Indeed, the birds do not made by damming a small creek. Nest- even rise as the trains go by. And ing places were provided by planting these are the same birds that go out scrub willow and buttonbush. In the daily to feed in the swamps and there swamps near by, Mr. McIlhenny cap- will not allow man to approach closer tured eight snowy herons, or egrets, a than several hundred yards. Such is species which was at that time nearly the response of birds to protection! extinct in this state because of the On the great wild fowl refuges of ravages of the plume hunters. During Louisiana a development of natural the summer and fall months he kept colonies is going on under the protecthese egrets in captivity along the edge tion afforded. These areas are careof his little pond. He visited them daily fully guarded and thousands of black and they soon grew tame. When the mallards and other summer birds breed other birds started their return south here each year. The last stand of the Mr. McIlhenny gave his pets their lib- roseate spoonbill in Louisiana is in the erty. They stayed around the pond for western part of the state at Cameron several days and then joined the others Parish, truly a wonderful sight in June on their southern journey. In the when we visited it-and yet pitiful. spring, however, five birds returned and We traveled along the Intercoastal two pairs built their nests in the scrubby Canal to Black Bayou, a weird, beautitrees and reared their young in safety. ful stream with its gnarled, moss-hung That fall eleven of them migrated to cypresses, and paddled down the little their southern home; nine returned in side stream in pirogues. We counted the spring, and several young were 287 spoonbills clustered in the tops of raised.
the cypress trees, their pink colors To increase the number of egrets Mr. showing against the green with all the Mellhenny resorted to many experi- freshness of peach blossoms in springments. As the little blue herons lav time. These few birds are all that are eggs similar to those of the egrets and left of the large colonies which once as their young are also white, he trans- gave
color to the southern swamps. ferred egrets eggs to the herons' nests. The year 1917 was very dry, and When the egrets missed their eggs, they the spoonbills did not nest along the again laid, so that two broods were ob- bayou, but they were building during tained in place of one.
our visit, and it is reported they had a From that time on these snowy very successful season. Their warden herons increased rapidly. Other species was formerly a market shooter and allijoined them until today the little pond gator hunter- yet he efficiently prohas a wealth of bird life that can be tected the birds, and although he could equaled by few other places of similar neither read nor write, he could obey size.
orders. One day some men came down I had heard of this little haven for from a town near by to "shoot out” the birds many times and expected to find birds as they had been accustomed to a wild, inaccessible swamp, but con- do. As they were approaching, the trary to my expectations, I found the warden paddled up in his pirogue, heronry snuggling at the foot of the shoved his gun in the ribs of the nearrolling hills of Avery, a most unnatural est man, and then asked their business. place for birds, --for there is a factory They "allowed” they were going to kill
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