Bird tour offered at refuge

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 18, 2009

NATCHEZ — Wood storks, which have become a highlight of St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, are back.

The first storks were reported last weekend and about 50 were reported seen in the rookery off of the Magnolia Walking Trail on June 17.

Previous work done on the refuge reported that most of the storks found on the refuge in the summer and early fall spend most of their year on the Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. One theory was that their arrival time was driven by day length, same as geese.

Email newsletter signup

With the arrival of the storks this week, a month earlier than last year, it seems that their movement into the area may be driven more by river stages and the availability of food.

They feed primarily on small fish and crawfish stranded in the small pools left by the river as it recedes from the backwater areas, concentrations of fish found in moving water as it runs out of backwater areas, or along the river itself.

For an opportunity to see the wood storks and many other birds on the refuge, the refuge staff is guiding a bird walk at 7 a.m. Saturday. The event is casual and will last until about 10 a.m.

Participants should meet at the refuge office and can leave as their schedule — or temperatures — demands. The summer bird count is now up to 74 species.

The monthly meeting of the Friends of St. Catherine Creek will be Monday, at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. The refuge summer interns will be speaking on their summer projects.

Annual permits issued for the 2008-09 year will be expiring at the end of June. New permits should be available as early as next week and the price will increase to $15.