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Hello! My name is Annelise Blanchette. I’m an animal behavior biologist interested in urban ecology, ecotoxicology, and community outreach.

I’m a PhD student in Dr. Jordan Karubian’s lab at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. My work focuses on the northern mockingbird located here in the city of New Orleans – more specifically, I study how environmental lead may be affecting the behaviors of the mockingbird. I collaborate with several amazing people to share my research and raise awareness about soil-based lead contamination.

If you live in the Uptown area (Carrollton to Napoleon, S. Claiborne to Tchoup), Lakeshore, or Lake Vista and you have mockingbirds building nests, incubating eggs, or feeding nestlings and feel comfortable having me monitor the nest, trap the adults, and band the adults/nestlings please contact me: ablanchette@tulane.edu or click here to leave a message.

Mardi Gras from a Bird's Eye View

Together with my advisor, Dr. Jordan Karubian, I am working in collaboration with A Studio in the Woods and artistic printmaker Pippin Frisbie-Calder to raise awareness about urban birds and lead contamination in New Orleans with themes related to both public health and the well being of all living creatures. As in many older cities around the world, lead contamination represents an important health risk to both human and animal inhabitants of New Orleans. The ongoing work by Dr. Jordan Karubian and colleagues suggests that high levels of lead in some New Orleans neighborhoods may impact the behavior and reproductive success of urban songbirds. In this way, these songbirds may serve as “canaries in the coal mine” for the risks associated with lead contamination, with the potential to raise awareness about this important but sometimes under-appreciated issue. We are collaborating with SITW and Pippin to understand the effects of lead and develop provocative community engagement using the shared platform of Mardi Gras as a vehicle to reach a broad swath of local residents.

A key component to this project will be getting toxic beads out of the trash and into recycling programs. In addition to high levels of lead in New Orleans from historic contamination, many Mardi Gras beads have been shown to have high levels of heavy metals. Objects tossed off of Mardi Gras parade floats, called ‘throws’ locally, comprise approximately 25 million pounds of trash produced annually during the two week celebration. Our intention is to encourage people to recycle their beads by exchanging them for a beautiful, eco-friendly, handcrafted throw. Thanks to GroundsKrewe.org and ArcGNO.org for assistance in recycling our beads!

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Mardi Gras From a Bird’s Eye View Bead Collection

Recycle your beads with the Mockingbird Project! I will be out with artist Pippin Frisbie-Calder, members of Studio in the Woods, and community volunteers on the Uptown parade route (St. Charles between Napoleon and Louisiana) to recycle Mardi Gras Beads and raise awareness about lead contamination in the city. Bring us your beads and we …