Sisters: Yellow Rails and Rice Festival & Acadia Birding Festival
Why sister festivals?
Culture. Acadia was one of five territories of New France that spanned maritime northeastern North America, including Maine - home of the Acadia Birding Festival. French roots, culture, and language are still celebrated there today. Louisiana’s Acadiana, a 22 parish cultural region and historical homeland of the “Cajuns,” traces its roots to the Acadians who settled in this area following deportation from Acadia during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. These new residents formed the foundation of Louisiana’s rich Cajun culture: language, music, and cuisine. The Yellow Rails and Rice Festival is held in the heart of Cajun country or “L’Acadiane” in Cajun French.
The birds - shared and unique. Maine and Louisiana share many of the same eastern US bird species despite their long distance separation. These include both resident and migratory bird species. But there are many unique species - specialties to the northeast and southeast.
Celebrate migration. Many individuals of migratory species that breed in Maine could potentially migrate through Louisiana during spring and fall, such as the Upland Sandpipers illustrated below. And, many migratory species that breed in Maine could potentially winter in Louisiana, such as the Ruby-crowned Kinglet pictured above on the sister festival banner, and which served as the emissary of our 2014 inaugural sister festival union.
Explore diverse ecosystems. At opposite ends of the US, bird habitats are very different. From the boreal forests of the Northeast to the longleaf pineywoods of the South, and from the scenic rocky shorelines of the northeast Atlantic Coast to the sandy barrier island beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Spectacular scenery awaits: wide-open spaces and rural landscapes - hosting bird species characteristic of the northeast or southeast. Visit Maine’s Birding Trail and Louisiana’s America’s Wetland Bird Trail.
Agriculture and natural resources. The Yellow Rails and Rice Festival highlights the importance of rice agriculture as bird habitat. Maine’s immense blueberry barrens are the nation’s top producer of blueberries and also host many birds. To symbolize these shared values, in 2014 the year when sisterhood was established, Louisiana-grown rice was featured at the Acadia Birding Festival and Maine blueberries at Yellow Rails and Rice Festival. Both states are also famous for their seafood - come to dine! Come to enjoy: Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Whether it’s along the Maine Birding Trail (link below) or Louisiana’s Birding Trails (link below) – the goal is to enjoy our birds and shared resources, make new friends, and have a fun and informative experience. We hope that our festival sisterhood will start a trend among other birding festivals. Migrate north in the spring and south in the fall!
Uppies in blueberries by Donna L. Dittmann (2014). Image designed for the Acadia Birding Festival 2014 from original drawings, paintings, and photographs - layers blended with a computer as Donna imagined a pair of Upland Sandpipers on Maine’s blueberry barrens. This species is a regular spring migrant to SW Louisiana's rice growing region.
Our adopted festival: Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration
Parish and County. Louisiana and Texas are state-neighbors and share some southern traditions and what a coincidence: both festivals are hosted in a parish/county named to honor Jefferson Davis, a prominent planter (and of course, the President of the Confederate States of America). Yellow Rails and Rice Festival is based in Jefferson Davis Parish. JD Parish was one of the last parishes to be organized in the state of Louisiana. It was originally a part of Imperial Calcasieu Parish, which comprised an area of more than 3,600 sq mi (9,300 km2) and was the largest parish by geographic area in Louisiana. In 1912, Imperial Calcasieu Parish was divided and three new parishes carved from Calcasieu (no longer Imperial): Allen, Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis. These are the last parishes organized in Louisiana. JD Parish has a total area of approximately 660 sq. mi (1700 km2). The bill creating JD Parish was passed by the state legislature in 1912 but did not take effect until 1913. JD Parish is part of the 22 parish Acadiana region of Louisiana, which is influenced by a large Francophone population. It was named after Jefferson Davis, a prominent planter (and the President of the Confederate States of America). Davis Mountain Hummingbird Celebration is based in Jeff Davis County which is also named for Jefferson Davis, who served as the 23rd United States Secretary of War in the 1850s. The Texas legislature established Jeff Davis County on March 15, 1887. Cattle ranchers began operating in the county in the 1880s. Shaped like a pentagon, it is the only county in the United States that touches a foreign country (Mexico) at a single point. JD County is also one of the nine counties that compose the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas and one of Texas's largest counties with an area of 2265 sq miles (5870 km2). It is about 3/12 times the size of JD Parish and has an elevation gradient from Chihuahuan Desert (4900 ft.) to Mt. Livermore (8383 ft.) in the Davis Mountains compared to relatively flat JD Parish located in the historically prairie zone of Louisiana.
The birds - Each region has iconic breeding species mostly unique, in Louisiana those of the southeast US and in Texas the southwest US. West Texas and Louisiana do share many migrant species despite their long distance separation and very different habitats.
Explore diverse ecosystems. At opposite ends of aridity and humidity, bird habitats are very different. From the western sky island forests of the Davis Mountains to the longleaf pineywoods of the Southeast, and from Chihuanhuan Desert environs to the sandy barrier island beaches of the Gulf of Mexico spectacular scenery awaits. Both enjoy wide-open spaces and rural landscapes.
Agriculture and natural resources. The Yellow Rails and Rice Festival highlights the importance of rice agriculture as bird habitat. Much of Texas's wide open spaces are managed by cattle ranchers. Both states are also famous for their cuisines - come to dine!
Come to have fun: Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Whether it’s along Texas's Wildlife Trails (TP&W icon link above left) or Louisiana’s Birding Trails (link above, right) – the goal is to have a good time, enjoy our birds, and shared resources, make new friends, and have a fun and informative experience. We hope you visit our adopted festival in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. Migrate west in the summer and east in the fall!
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