Dinesh Parate/ /

 A California veterinarian has pleaded guilty for his part in what federal prosecutors say was a plan to illegally export exotic birds from New Orleans to Taiwan.

Federal court documents show that Alex Madriaga of Buena Park pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single count. He was one of four indicted last year and the second to plead guilty. Prosecutors said the plan involved shipping birds protected under an international treaty governing trade in endangered species.

Birds Usually Don't Need Your Help

Mar 26, 2019
Monica Boudreaux / Friends of Black Bayou

With the arrival of spring and summer approaching, the likelihood of crossing paths with young birds that appear to be in distress rises. While the temptation for some to scoop them up in an effort to assist the animal is there, many times what appears to be trouble is actually quite natural for fledglings. LDWF bird biologist Melissa Collins says," It is best to enjoy what you see but leave injured or orphaned birds undisturbed."

Bald Eagle

Mar 11, 2019
K. Ouchley

What does it say about a country that shoots and poisons its national emblem into extinction? This scenario almost played out in America, at least in the lower 48 states.The bald eagle, that majestic raptor that adorns our currency and stands as a symbol of strength and freedom, came perilously close to disappearing throughout its range except in Alaska.

Cavity Trees

Mar 4, 2019
K. Ouchley

In the realm of commercial forestry, trees with holes are undesirable. They take up space where more valuable, sound trees can grow. For that reason cavity trees have been all but eliminated on millions of acres. It’s that money thing. But in southern woodlands, trees with cavities once occurred naturally at varying frequency across the landscape. Cavities form when trees are injured or diseased; animals, especially woodpeckers, excavate holes in living and dead trees. As vital components of a forest, cavity trees provide nesting, roosting, and denning habitat for many types of wildlife.

Goose Mystery

Oct 1, 2018
K. Ouchley

The source of mysteries is not limited to the likes of Tony Hillerman or P.D. James. Nature also serves up some perplexing whodunits from time to time. On the evening of January 25th, 1983 several people called the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Louisiana where I worked to report unusual snow goose mortality near Jennings. As the regional wildlife disease biologist, I was responsible for looking into the matter.


Pied-billed Grebe

Sep 17, 2018
K. Ouchley

The degree-toting ornithologists call her pied-billed grebe but in Louisiana she answers to “di-dipper,” or “hell-diver” on a bad day. For her the water’s surface is only an interim point in space and time. That she spends precious few moments there is an aggravation for birdwatchers and boys with BB guns, not to mention the serious predators be they finned, feathered or scaled. Departing the planner ecotone dividing atmosphere and liquid is more graceful if she chooses the denser of the two mediums. The downward dive is faster than the eye can appreciate the choreography.


Rain Crows

Sep 4, 2017
K. Ouchley

One definition of the word 'lurk' is to lie in wait in a place of concealment.  Among those birds that spend time along Louisiana bayous, one species in particular can be said to exhibit this behavior as a matter of habit.  Rain crows, often heard but less often seen, are bona fide lurkers as they perch with hunched shoulders that belie a long, graceful neck in a pose that for all the world appears to me an expression of guilt.

Belted Kingfisher

Aug 14, 2017
K. Ouchley

In teaching kids how to fish, one of the first obstacles that must be overcome is what has to be an innate urge to throw rocks and sticks into the water for the sheer joy of it.  Every fisherman knows that such commotions only scare the fish away.  Within the world of birds though, some of the best fishers actually incorporate this behavior into their pedagogy.

Wild Bird Longevity

May 15, 2017
Bryant Olsen /

While cleaning out wood duck boxes in anticipation of the upcoming nesting season, a biologist of Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge recently found a roosting screech owl in one of the boxes. Small owls are often found in the boxes and are occasionally banded during the encounter.

Carolina Wren

Apr 3, 2017
K. Ouchley

Though mates for life, for much of the year they sleep on opposite sides of our house in the woods.  One we call the east wren.  This is the male.  The west wren is the female that sometimes roosts above the front door or in a wind chime that she often rings on a dead calm evening seemingly for her own amusement.