Local birders gather for Christmas bird count in Cameron Parish

(Source: MGN Online/Tiffaney Dantinne)
(Source: MGN Online/Tiffaney Dantinne)

Martin Guidry's been birding for more than 30 years.

Guidry and around 40 others set out early in the morning for his favorite time of the year, the Christmas bird count.

"The most interesting we've seen today is a Ferruginous Hawk, it's a fairly rare bird in Louisiana, comes from the Western part of the United States," said Guidry.

The count is an early-winter bird census. Volunteers across multiple countries come together to count birds.

And Guidry and the other bird fans are covering a 15-mile diameter circle centered around Cameron Parish.

"Most people in Louisiana don't realize that this area in Cameron Parish is one of the best spots in the United States to see wildlife," said Guidry. "We typically rank about number 20 out of 2,600 of these counts that are being done in the United States."

While these birders count for fun, it's also for science. The count allows researchers to better understand how different species of birds are doing.

"It provides data for scientists to use for bird populations and they can determine if populations are trending downward or upward," said David Booth of Gulf Coast Bird Club.

Birders estimate they'll see more than 100 species of birds in Cameron Parish.

And with binoculars, telescopes, and bird callers, Guidry hopes to see them all.

"You also enjoy seeing the birds, but it's a competitive thing also where you can try to beat yourself and see how many you can see in one day," said Guidry.

But competitiveness aside, Guidry said this winter tradition is nothing without those by his side.

"The most important thing about birding is the people you get to meet," said Guidry. You meet people from all walks of life."

Half the people counting in the Cameron area are from the Gulf Coast Bird Club in Lake Charles.

The count is part of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

This is the 114th year for the count.

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