Now that we have arrived at the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall on the Gulf Coast, newspaper articles are considering the lingering damage done by the storm. Many refuges along the coast were hard-hit and are struggling to recover. Part of the problem is that the storm washed salt water into fresh water ecosystems and killed vegetation that could not stand the salinity. The waters also dumped all forms of trash and toxic waste into the refuges. Cleaning and restoring the marshes will take years and substantial investment.
The refuges damaged along the coast are important for both breeding and migratory birds. Twelve Important Bird Areas lay in the direct path of the storm. The long-term effects of the storm on the birds that used those areas will not be known until more research is done. In the short term, many birds seem to have abandoned their traditional nesting habitats. Among the species with reduced nesting colonies include Brown Pelicans, several species of herons, Black Skimmers, and Sandhill Cranes.
On a lighter note, Judith Toups reports that in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, her yard was filled with ruby-throated hummingbirds.