No. 189 BATON ROUGE, LAFebruary 2000

LOS NEWS, Page 2

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Camellias from HUMNET-L (with permission)

Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 22:04:24 -0600
My grandmother's yard has twenty or so large Camellia plants, and most were planted in 1935. The yard has always had good success with winter hummers and the Camellias with their evergreen foliage serves them well for cover. I have also seen them working the blossoms and have assumed it was for insects.
Today I checked the blossoms more carefully. There are a number of different japonica types and they are all in bloom. Some are compound and some are simple. To my surprise, I found that every one of the simple flower types contained nectar. Some of the freshly opened blossoms that were aimed upward held a lot of nectar. When torn open, the well at the base of the blossom could yield 3 large drops. The nectar tasted very sweet. I used my hummingbird scale to weigh the nectar produced from one blossom and it came to .2 grams. This would be the equivalent to half the consumption of a Rufous during a hearty trip to a feeder.
All of the compound flowers were dry when torn open, and the base of the blossom was unreachable by a hummer anyway due to the compact petals. I have never thought of Camellias as nectar producers, and would be interested if others find nectar in their Camellias.
with a new appreciation for Camellias,
Dave Patton
Lafayette, LA
Dave has posted some gorgeous photos of these old fashioned single camellias at his great website:
Table of Contents

Louisiana's Agricultural Wetlands as Waterbird Habitat - A Synopsis
by Jay V. Huner
Crawfish, Procambarus spp., are cultivated by establishing perpetuating populations in short hydroperiod, managed wetland ecosystems. Crawfish impoundments are filled for crawfish production in the fall and drained in the spring. There are approximately 120,000 - 125,000 acres of such systems in southern Louisiana and southeastern Texas, where crawfish farming is intimately integrated with the existing 1 million+ acre rice industry. Crawfish are also cultivated to a lesser degree in the contiguous southern states of Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. These ricelands and crawfish ponds are agricultural wetlands that serve to mitigate loss of both coastal and inland natural wetlands. Crawfish impoundments are magnets for wetland vertebrates, especially colonial waterbirds including wading birds, shorebirds, gulls and terns, waterfowl, grebes, cormorants, moorhens, and coots. These waterbirds come from regional, continental, and hemispherical populations. Predaceous birds are attracted to crawfish impoundments by the large biomass of animal prey species including not only crawfish, but also other invertebrates, as well as frogs, tadpoles, and small fishes. Vegetation and seed resources attract herbivorous birds.
Around crawfish impoundments, there is a constant and conspicuous presence of wading birds. These include white ibis, dark ibis, great egrets, snowy egrets, yellow-crowned night herons, and little blue herons. Numbers of individual birds can be quite high in these habitats. In fact, the largest concentration of white ibis in North America is located in southwestern Louisiana and has been arguably attracted there by the crawfish industry. Furthermore, dramatic increases in populations of other colonial wading birds have been directly attributed to the development of the crawfish industry. Less common waders like the wood stork and roseate spoonbill have increased in numbers and are frequently encountered nowadays around crawfish impoundments, especially in the spring. Other commonly encountered predaceous waterbirds include gulls, terns, and cormorants during the fall-spring period and shorebirds in the spring. Waterfowl and coots have become especially abundant in these systems in recent years and appear to be feeding on invertebrates, including crawfish, prior to their return to northern nesting grounds in the spring.
The wading birds are especially conspicuous to farmers, and indeed several species have been shown to feed heavily on crawfish when visiting crawfish impoundments. In addition, high concentrations of coots have caused concern among farmers about depredation on crawfish, competition with crawfish for food, and damage to newly planted rice in nearby fields. Bird damage complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Service Agency have been increasing over the past several years. The Louisiana Crawfish Promotion and Research Board has responded to complaints about this apparent depredation by providing a significant percentage of its very limited research moneys for cursory studies of the situation - approximately $35,000 over 5 years. Studies of the impact on crawfish production have been inconclusive to date, although limited computer simulations based on bird usage of ponds suggests that damage can, under certain conditions, be serious. The concern expressed by crawfish farmers about crop damage by colonial wading birds and coots is countered by conservationists who contend that the birds improve production by reducing crawfish population densities so that there is less stunting of the crawfish. As a consequence of changes in agricultural legislation, collapse of international markets, and international competition, farmers who have traditionally cultivated rice, which they subsequently integrated with crawfish production, are presently reviewing alternative cropping strategies. There has been a decided increase in sugar cane, corn, and soybean acreage in southern Louisiana and southeastern Texas in lands traditionally used for rice cultivation. Crawfish has been an important cool season cash crop that sustained rice operations but the profitability of crawfish farming has been seriously impacted by imports of Chinese crawfish products. Although temporary tariffs have been placed on Chinese crawfish products, much economic damage has been done to the crawfish industry. A major shift from a rice base with its associated crawfish component to "terrestrial" crops will have a decided impact on the managed wetland habitat that is critical to healthy waterbird populations. Loss of crawfish impoundment acreage may be expected to immediately impact regional waterbird populations in the Gulf Coastal Plain and subsequently impact other waterbirds that winter in the area or migrate through the area, especially the shorebirds. Furthermore, migratory waterfowl that would otherwise use the crawfish impoundments in early fall when natural wetlands are dry, would be expected to suffer. Migration staging areas for waterfowl and coots would be significantly impacted.
The University of Southwestern Louisiana's Avian Aquaculture Depredation Working Group is associated with the National Wetlands Research Center, the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, the USDA's Wildlife Service Agency, and Tulane University. Our working group has been seeking funding to document the value of integrated rice/crawfish systems to waterbirds and effects of birds on crops. If economic damage is documented, it will provide the background data necessary to develop pond management techniques and methods that reduce negative avian impacts on crawfish production. This will be especially important in encouraging farmers outside the main production areas of southern Louisiana and southeastern Texas to cultivate crawfish, thus providing additional wetland habitat for wildlife. Furthermore, the southern farm community has a wonderful opportunity to capitalize on systems that attract birds to their farms through leasing such areas for consumptive (hunting) and non-consumptive (birding/ecotourism) activities. Waterbird usage data are likely to justify inclusion of managed crawfish impoundments as components of funded wetland mitigation banks.
Selected References:
Fleury, B. E. and T. W. Sherry. 1995. Long-term population trends of colonial wading birds in the southern United States: the impact of crayfish aquaculture on Louisiana populations. The Auk 112:613-632.
Frederick, P. C., K. L. Bildstein, B. E. Fleury, and J. Ogden. 1996. Conservation of large, nomadic populations of white ibises (Eudocimus albus) in the United States. Conservation Biology 10:203-216.
Huner, J. V. 1995. How crawfish impoundments sustain wetland vertebrates in the South. National Agriculture Ecosystem Management Conference. New Orleans, Louisiana. pp. 32-40. Conservation Technology Information Center. West Lafayette, Indiana.
Huner, J. V. 1993. (editor). Management of fish-eating birds on fish farms. National Aquaculture Association. Shepherdstown, West Virginia, 51 pp.
Huner, J. V. and J. E. Barr (3rd ed.). 1991. Red swamp crawfish: biology and exploitation. Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Kushlan, J. A. 1978. Feeding ecology of wading birds. Wading Birds Research Report #7, National Audubon Society, Washington, DC.
Martin, R. P. and R. B. Hamilton. 1985. Wading bird predation in crawfish ponds. Louisiana Agriculture 28(4):3-5.
Martin, R. P. and C. D. Lester. 1990. Atlas and census of wading bird and seabird colonies in Louisiana: 1990. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, Special Publication 3, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Nassar, J. R., P. J. Zwank, D. C. Hayden, and J. V. Huner. 1991. Construction and management of multiple-use impoundments for waterfowl and crawfish. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wetlands Research Center, Slidell, Louisiana.
Remsen, J. V., Jr., M. M. Swan, S. w. Cardiff, and K. V. Rosenberg. 1991. The importance of the rice-growing region of south Louisiana to winter populations of shorebirds, raptors, waders, and other birds. Journal of Louisiana Ornithology 1(2):34-47.
Crawfish Research Center
University of Southwestern Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana 70504
tel. 318-394-7508 / fax. 318-482-5395 /
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posted 18February2000