Living Ind

Take Wing

by Mary Tutwiler

A weekend of birding, plantation tours, and outdoor activities in historic St. Francisville

People will flock to St. Francisville this weekend for the sixth annual Audubon Country BirdFest. Louisiana's premier artist-naturalist, John James Audubon, the festival's namesake, painted up to 80 of his artworks contained in the "Birds of North America" portfolio while living at St. Francisville's Oakley Plantation in 1821.

More than 175 species of birds reside or migrate through the area. Spectacular migrants include spring warblers, brilliantly colored orioles, tanagers, buntings, bluebirds, yellow-billed cuckoos and hummingbirds. Resident waterfowl such as herons, egrets and ibises are attracted to the virgin wetland forest of Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge. Historic plantations and antebellum gardens in full spring bloom will be open for the festival; for outdoors enthusiasts, the terrain of West Feliciana Parish has some of the best golfing, hiking and mountain biking trails in Louisiana with hilly bluffs and shady ravines cut by streams and waterfalls.

"BirdFest" offers a wide array of birding field trips with transportation, including canoes. The expeditions visit wetland wildlife areas and privately owned properties, giving everyone a chance to feel like John James Audubon for a day.

Sponsored by the Feliciana Nature Society, the 2007 festival will be held March 30-April 1, 2007, and headquartered at the St. Francisville Inn & Parker Memorial Park. Advance registration for birding trips is recommended; e-mail [email protected], or call (800) 488-6502. For more info, visit