After my walk with my family through the Barataria Preserve, I didn't expect to see much more in the way of wildlife on our stay in New Orleans. As it turns out, I was completely wrong! While visiting various parts of the city, we passed by rivers, lakes, and parks, all of which were teaming with life, and I got to hang out with some awesome southern birds. It's a good thing I decided to carry my camera with me everywhere!
Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Mississippi River, and while we were exploring the Riverwalk one morning, we came across two Brown Pelicans, one in the water and one on the pier:
This was my first time really looking closely at these strange creatures, and there are so many things I found to love about them -- that cool white mohawk; the scary hook at the tips of their beaks:
That oversized beak looks like it should be unwieldy, but the pelicans were not at all clumsy in preening themselves:
And look, the pelican's back is also a pillow:
The Brown Pelicans may look a little awkward on land, but they seem much more balanced on the water:
And they showed their full size and power when they took flight:
Now those are some awesome birds.
In the center of the city, away from the water, House Sparrows (unsurprisingly) were everywhere, and they were remarkably tame. I got very close to a few House Sparrows drinking and bathing in a fountain in the French Quarter:
I'm not a huge fan of House Sparrows in general, but you have to admit, these fellows are pretty darn cute:
We spent some time walking through the grounds of City Park, and there were birds everywhere. One pond near the art museum, in particular, was teeming with waterfowl, and the fact that two guys were standing there throwing whole loaves of bread into the water meant that we got to see some cool birds very close up. There were some bizarre domesticated birds, like this Muscovy Duck:
Dozens of wild birds also decided to make this pond their home, including a flock of pretty White Ibises:
And jostling for position with the gulls and ibises was a single Anghinga (if I moved any more to the right when taking this picture, I would've fallen into the water):
I think this is a simply gorgeous bird, although I do feel like its elegance is a little offset by the total goofiness of its feet:
This adorable little Pied-billed Grebe wasn't partaking in the free bread, as far as I could tell, but it also didn't swim too quickly away from us as it dove in and out of the water:
In other parts of City Park, away from the magically bread-filled pond, the birds were still abundant, but less willing to stay close to us. We watched this American Kestrel swoop from its perch high in the trees to go hunting in the field below:
And a Loggerhead Shrike perched on a wire above our heads before flying off again after its next meal:
On the last day of our visit, we drove to Lake Pontchartrain, where I snuck up close to a group of Cattle Egrets feeding on a grassy bank next to the parking lot:
These birds didn't seem to mind my presence, and I had a lot of fun taking their pictures.
So it was a pretty excellent trip. Some of these birds are ones that just don't live near my home up north, and I got to meet a bunch of cool creatures that I'd never seen before.
I have one last thing to share from the trip, although it's not technically alive. In one of the city's art galleries that we randomly wandered into, we found some wooden carvings of birds that were just phenomenal. The artist's name is Mike Bonner, and I own no rights to this work:
I still cannot believe that this is wood! That Northern Pintail looks like it's about to swim right off the shelf. And this picture doesn't at all do justice to the incredible amount of detail in every single carved feather:
It just goes to show, even in the city, and even inside buildings, you never know when you'll find beauty and nature.