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an ideal place to view birds.  The barrier island separates the super-salty Gulf of Mexico water from the less-salty water in the sound and bays that are mixed with fresh water from the inland rivers and streams.  The combination creates an ideal estuarine environment for fish, shrimp and crab nurseries that in turn provide food for a multitude of shorebirds.  In addition, the bottomland forests of pine and oak blend with the wetland swamps to provide perfect nesting sites.  This is all helped by the fact that humans have created other environments that appeal to birds; for example, clear-cut forest areas and urban areas with landfills and bird-feeders.  Finally, during the huge spring migration period, the coast of Gulf Islands National Seashore is the first landfall for millions of migrant birds that have crossed the Gulf of Mexico enroute from Central and South America.  When they arrive, they are so exhausted and have so little energy left that they overcome their natural fear of man and stop to rest and eat from the park's natural "grocery store."

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