he Fifth Annual Yellow Rails and Rice Festival was held 23-27 October 2013. Participants, who traveled to Louisiana from far and wide for the opportunity to see a Yellow Rail, were not disappointed.  And this year, the weather cooperated. Yellow Rail numbers were higher than compared to 2012, but still low compared to 2010 and 2011. All participants were able to see their “target species.”  Wednesday afternoon ‘Beat the Crowds’ group tallied about 10 to kick off Yellow Rail season.  Thursday and Friday we estimated 20-25 each day, and Saturday about the same but there seemed to be rails flushing everywhere - and there were amazing numbers of Soras!  All participants had one or more opportunities to ride onboard the massive rice harvester - for some, riding on a combine was just as exciting as viewing the elusive Yellow Rail.  In addition to Yellow Rail, a cumulative total of about 200 species of birds were tallied over the course of the festival during rice harvesting/rail viewing activities and on the additional field trips. Field trips visited other Louisiana habitats, such as longleaf pineywoods and coastal habitats, to search for regional specialties, which allows participants to maximize the diversity of birds encountered during their short visit. As in previous years, participants enjoyed Louisiana’s spectacular abundance and diversity of birds – many participants vowed to return next year and bring their friends. As in the past, participants also had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Louisiana’s ornithological, university, birding, conservation, agriculture, and tourism communities and enjoy Louisiana’s culture, cuisine, and hospitality. Including two post-festival tour groups, YRARF 2013 hosted 140 participants representing 27 US states and DC, plus Australia, Canada, and Peru.  Taking into account our superb corps of dozens of volunteers, over 200 persons were involved in the 2013 event! This year’s invited guest was EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, who also got to see Yellow Rails from aboard a combine.

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival 2013

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