Restoration of Rabbit Island improves bird habitat

A nesting brown pelican on Rabbit Island in Cameron Parish.

Located in the west cove of Calcasieu Lake in Cameron Parish, Rabbit Island is a vital nesting colony for many birds, including the brown pelican. Nesting season is well under way on the island and will last through August.

The good news is there could be even more nesting area for brown pelicans and other species of birds in 2021. Restoration of the island is scheduled to begin this fall to improve the island’s deteriorating nesting habitat. The project will restore approximately 87 acres of the island’s original 200-acre footprint.The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are heading the project, which is funded by settlement dollars from the BP Oil Spill. Louisiana will receive $5 billion in natural resource damage money from the settlement and about $220 million of that is specifically for bird restoration projects such as on Rabbit Island.

Nesting success on Rabbit Island is generally very poor due to routine tidal inundation of nests. As the island continues to subside and deteriorate, birds will likely abandon the island in the near future without any actions to restore it.