The New Orleans Birdwatching Society (NO-BS) today announced the Society is awarding New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell their prestigious ‘Ornithologist of The Year’ award after the Mayor discovered a new species of bird right here in the Crescent City.
NO-BS President A. John James recalls this is a first for a Crescent City Mayor.
“Add this to the pamphlet of astonishing accomplishments,” said John.
Unique to New Orleans, the flighty ‘Single Digit Perdido Buzzard’ (Latoyaus Pontalbus Fonicatus) was first sighted by Cantrell at a 2023 Mardi Gras parade.
Described as rather unremarkable in appearance though still eye-catching, the Perdido Buzzard can be first identified by an alternating high-to-low-to-high pitched shrieking indicating it is in the area.
While John does not remember anyone ever seeing one before, he said it’s not surprising it’s remained undiscovered until now, as it seems the Perdido Buzzard spends much of its time migrating from the Crescent City.
“Even when it is back in its native habitat, this fleeting fowl seemingly does not stay in one place for very long, often flying from one hand to another every other minute, even if its nest needs attention,” said John.
According to John, the Perdido Buzzard apparently will dip out of sight for several days if it feels as though it is being watched — another reason why it remained undiscovered.
“I’ve never seen another bird as always ‘out there’ yet still disengaged as this one. It’s truly extraordinary,” said John. “We watch a lot of birds, and I could probably count similar fowls with one finger on one hand.”
While the Perdido Buzzard is said to now be native to New Orleans, its ancient origins appear to possibly be in the Western United States along the Pacific Coast.
“We’re not sure what drove its ancestors to leave the West but they seem to possibly have chosen New Orleans as its home because of fewer predators, becoming the hunter instead of the hunted.”
The Society will present the award to Mayor Cantrell at the 2023 convention in Abu Dhabi. Not unfamiliar with accolades, the mayor also was honored by a local brewery a few years ago with a line of beer.