Top Places To Birdwatch in Louisiana – Free & Paid Birding Destinations

December 11, 2021 // 20 minute read

Birding Locations » US » Louisiana Birding Resources

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Cajun hospitality, Mardi Gras, and Bourbon Street likely spring to mind when you think of Louisiana. New Orleans is one of the most amazing places to visit, so if you have plans to make your way to this wonderful place this year – or if you already happen to live there – you should consider some of the better birdwatching options as well.

For birders, Louisiana is a great place to live because it’s filled with lots of protected habitats, national wildlife refuges, wetlands, pine woods, and barrier islands as well. So, if you truly enjoy birding, you’ll want to spend time visiting the area 50 miles off the Gulf Coast and visit birding hotspots including Cameron Prairie, Peveto Woods, and other excellent locations. 

Even better, Louisiana has a very strong birding community. You can quickly and easily join one or more local bird-watching clubs or the National Audubon Society to connect with like-minded individuals in this incredible state. I’ll share information about upcoming birdwatching events, websites and social media pages for the top birdwatching clubs, and much more information below. 

And, if you are visiting any of Louisiana’s neighboring states, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas, be sure to check out our other birding resources for those states.

Take time to visit the Bayou State with family members and friends and remember to hit up some of the top birding hotspots along your travels.

Bird Watching Destinations in the Louisiana: Free Destinations

Are you ready to visit some of the best free birdwatching destinations in Louisiana? You may not know this, but there are so many different parks and reservations and preserved land that’s wide open to the public. You can visit at any time to view as many of the 470 recorded bird species that dwell within Louisiana’s borders.

Care to learn about these wonderful free birdwatching destinations? Continue reading to discover some of the finest free hotspots in the Creole State.

Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge – Free Bird Watching Location

Cameron Prairie NWR was originally established as a preserve because the land was needed to remain an area to keep wintering waterfowl safe in their natural environment and habitat. This refuge encompasses 9621 acres of land including old rice fields, coastal prairies, and fresh marshland.

This is a very busy refuge that sees around 100,000 visitors each year. It has a visitor center, exhibits, and other exciting attractions that are perfect for the inquiring public.

Location:

1428 Highway 27
Bell City, LA 70630

Phone: 337-598-2216

Email: [email protected]

GPS: 29.9739° N, 93.0897° W

Hours Of Operation:

Visitor Center

  • Monday through Thursday – 7:30 AM to 4 PM
  • Friday – 7:30 AM to 3 PM
  • Saturday – 9 AM to 4 PM
  • Sunday – Closed

More than likely, the national wildlife refuge land itself is open from dusk until dawn, but you should check with someone at the visitor center to get specific hours. They aren’t posted on their website.

  • Purple Gallinule
  • Great-Tailed Grackle
  • Ross’s Goose
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Marsh Wren
  • Snow Geese
  • Black-Necked Stilt
  • Crested Caracara
  • Boat-Tailed Grackle
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Least Bittern
  • Cattle Egret

Hiking Trails:

According to information shared by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, there is a wildlife drive that is approximately 2 miles long and just south of the Visitor Center. So, instead of walking, you can get in your car and drive across this path to look at many different bird species.

If walking is an absolute must, because you happen to love hiking, there is a half a mile boardwalk that you can find on the south side of Pintail Wildlife Drive. This boardwalk will give you the opportunity to view many of the great bird species in their natural habitat.

Unfortunately, they also mention that they do not have designated hiking trails available on the refuge. But there are refuge levees that everyone is allowed to walk along as long as hunting season isn’t taking place.

Peveto Woods Sanctuary – No Admission Fee Is Charged

This Louisiana sanctuary is incredibly significant because it’s a smack dab in the middle of a migratory bird crossing along the path of the Gulf of Mexico. A wide range of migratory songbirds pass through the coast of Cameron Parish during the fall and spring each year, so it’s an excellent place to visit if you want to view migratory songbirds during their regular stopover.

Location:

182 Gulf View Rd.
Cameron, LA 70631

GPS: 29.7575° N, 93.6049° W

Hours Of Operation:

This bird sanctuary doesn’t have a phone number and it doesn’t have a visitor’s desk so it remains unmanned. With that said, the sanctuary is open every day of the year, 365 days, from dawn till dusk.

  • Orchard Oriole
  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Vermillion Flycatcher
  • Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
  • Ash-Throated Flycatcher
  • Townsend’s Warbler
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Cape May Warbler
  • Hooded Oriole
  • Hepatic Tanager

Hiking Trails:

As you can imagine, there are a number of wonderful hiking trails in and around Peveto Woods Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary for birdwatchers and hikers to enjoy. In fact, there are 5 hiking trails in the general vicinity of the sanctuary itself, but some are technically in the surrounding area.

The names and other pertinent information about these hiking trails include:

  • Peveto Woods Sanctuary Trail – the great thing about this trail is it’s relatively short and it’s also easy to navigate. The National Audubon Society, who manages the area, takes great care of this place so the trails are clean, well defined, and simple to walk along. This trail in particular is 0.7 miles long, which the average person should have no problem finishing in about 20 minutes without much difficulty. If you have some type of disability or struggle walking longer distances, it may take you longer to complete.
  • Lake Fausse State Park Trail A – this is also a relatively short loop hiking trail located in the state park next to the sanctuary. The trail itself is only 0.8 miles long and it’s very easy to navigate and it has lots of nice scenery and great wildlife viewing opportunities. Like the other trail, you should have no trouble completing this from start to finish in 20-25 minutes.
  • Creole Nature Trail – this particular trail is a little bit longer than the previous two, but it’s also very easy to walk along and it only has 2 feet of elevation, so it isn’t very strenuous. The total length of the trail is 1.4 miles, which the average person should finish in roughly 30-35 minutes or more, depending on your ability to walk longer distances.
  • Palmetto Island Trail – this hiking trail is also very easy to travel upon because it’s well maintained and kept in very good shape. You’ll walk through a wooded terrain near the water, which makes it a great place to explore and look at birds and other wildlife. The total length of the trail is 0.7 miles, which the average hiker can complete in 20 minutes or less.
  • Blue Goose Trail – this is the shortest trail out of the five that I mentioned today, because it’s only 0.5 miles long, which the average hiker should have no trouble finishing in 15 minutes or more. This is an easy trail to walk across and it’s a great place for many happy and excited birdwatchers to visit because there are plenty of birds along the path and lots of other wildlife as well.

Cypress Island Preserve – Free Admittance

This stunning location is one of the best places to visit in the heart of Louisiana if you intend to go birdwatching at any time in the near future. There are hundreds of wading birds for all to see, and there is a large protected area that encompasses 9500 acres of land that’s filled with beautiful swamps, forests, and so much more.

Location:

1264 Prairie Hwy.
St. Martinsville, LA 70582

Phone: 337-342-2475

GPS: 30.1930° N, 91.8826° W

Hours Of Operation:

The park itself is open all year round during daylight hours, but the Visitor Center is only open at specific times during the week.

Visitor Center

  • All year-round – weekends from 10 AM to 4 PM
  • Busy springtime – Wednesdays through Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk
  • Mississippi Kite
  • Painted Bunting
  • Common Gallinule
  • Neotropical Cormorant
  • Yellow-Throated Warbler
  • Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck
  • Cattle Egret
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Great Egret
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Little Blue Heron

Hiking Trails:

Like the previous entry, Cypress Island Preserve has a lot of land, but it only has one clearly defined hiking trail with a name, mileage, and an estimated amount of time that it would take to complete the trail.

The hiking trail available to you at Cypress Island Preserve is called:

  • Lake Martin Levee Trail – the thing that I like the most about this hiking trail is it’s very easy to walk along and it takes you across a scenic route to say the least. It is a very clearly defined dirt hiking path that is well-maintained, so the grass is cut, there isn’t a lot of garbage or foliage along the path, and you’ll be able to see where you’re going very clearly without having to worry about losing the trail. It’s also a bit on the longer side, so if hiking isn’t your thing, you may choose to only walk across part of the path. The total length is 5.2 miles, which the average person can finish in around two hours and 10 minutes.

Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge – Free Bird Watching, Hunting Permit Required

Bird watchers living in southwestern Louisiana really have it good because they have access to vast swaths of wetlands, marshland, and other beautiful regions that contain lots of other wildlife. Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places to visit if you’re looking to enjoy spending time in a tropical wetland bird paradise with over 250 bird species in this southern hotspot.

Location:

209 Nature Rd.
Lake Arthur, LA 70549

Phone: 337-774-5923

GPS: 29.9659° N, 92.8777° W

Hours Of Operation:

The park itself is open during daylight hours seven days a week and it’s even open on weekends and holidays. But the Visitor Center has very specific hours as well.

Those hours are:

Visitor Center Hours:

  • Monday through Thursday from 7:30 AM to 4 PM
  • Friday from 7:30 AM to 3 PM
  • Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM
  • Marsh Wren
  • Mottled Duck
  • Fulvous Whistling-Duck
  • Neotropical Cormorant
  • Least Bittern
  • Painted Bunting
  • Purple Gallinule
  • Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck
  • Common Gallinule
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Green-Winged Teal
  • Little Blue Heron

Hiking Trails:

At the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge, I have the privilege of telling you about two hiking trails that you can find in the area if you’re looking to enjoy spending time in nature along the beautiful wildlife trails.

The names and other important info about these hiking trails include:

  • Lacassine Pool Trail – there’s nothing to sneeze at when talking about this moderately difficult trail. You can find it within the national wildlife refuge, and it’s a great place to go to see lots of wildlife, waterways, canals, and bayous located within the refuge. You can get to the portal directly from the parking area, and if you would like, you can even travel across it by boat with an engine of 25 hp or less or take a non motorized boat. The total trail is 4 miles long, which will take the average person around three hours and 35 minutes to complete.
  • Lacassine Levee Walk – this trail definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, because it’s an expert level trail that’s incredibly long, so be prepared to spend many hours on the trail if you decide to walk the entire portion of this section of the marsh land. In total, this trail is 13.8 miles long, which should take the average hiker around seven hours to complete. It is especially fruitful because there are so many different types of birdlife along the path, so it definitely is considered a birdwatcher’s paradise. Be careful because you will cross paths with alligators along the way, so steer clear of them at all costs.

Sabine National Wildlife Refuge – Free to Enter

Louisiana residents and visitors will also love spending time in Sabine National Wildlife Refuge because this wonderful place is a great home to more than 200 different bird species in the surrounding area. This rich wetland is the perfect place to visit because it attracts so many migrant songbirds, and this is especially true during the spring.

Location:

3000 Holly Beach Hwy.
Hackberry, LA 70645

Phone: 337-762-3816

GPS: 29.9041° N, 93.5206° W

Hours Of Operation:

Like many of the other national wildlife refuges in Louisiana, this location stays open during daylight hours, so feel free to visit the park while it’s still light outside. No one is permitted to visit the park after dark, so steer clear because you’ll be breaking the law.

Visitor Center Hours

  • Monday through Thursday from 7:30 AM to 4 PM
  • Friday from 7:30 AM to 3 PM
  • Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM as long as volunteers are available
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Least Bittern
  • Eastern Kingbirds
  • American Avocet
  • Mourning Dove
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Seaside Sparrow
  • Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
  • Marsh Wren
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • White-Eyed Vireo

Hiking Trails:

Just like a few other destinations in Louisiana, this wildlife refuge only has one hiking trail available for birdwatchers, hikers, and mountain bikers to use. And on top of that, it’s basically a relatively low-key boardwalk trail that takes you across the marshland.

The name of the trail and other info include:

  • Wetland Walkway – there’s a lot to like about this trail if you aren’t the type of person that tends to spend a great deal of time walking or hiking. Otherwise, you may not love this particular trail because it’s relatively short since it’s only 1.4 miles long. The cool thing about this trail is it’s made up of a boardwalk that takes you across the soggy marshlands of southern Louisiana. As you walk across the boardwalk, you will see all kinds of interesting wildlife and many amazing birds along this elevated path. To walk the entire Wetland Walkway from start to finish, the average person can complete this journey in around 35 minutes or more, depending on how fast or slow you walk.

Bird Watching Destinations in the Louisiana: Paid Destinations

Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge – Paid Park Pass Required

This wildlife refuge is very expansive and it’s a great place to visit, but it suffered major damage in 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina. But as far as birding hotspots in New Orleans are concerned, Bayou Sauvage is definitely still considered the best of the best.

You’ll appreciate visiting here and seeing some of the 270 birds that can be observed in the area. The types of birds include songbirds, waterbirds, wading birds, and more.

Location:

New Orleans, LA70129

Phone: 985-882-2000

Email: [email protected]

GPS: 30.0896° N, 89.8692° W

Hours Of Operation:

The Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge is open seven days a week, but it is only open during daylight hours. You are not allowed to enter the park at night.

  • Painted Bunting
  • Mottled Duck
  • Black Skimmer
  • Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck
  • Gull-Billed Tern
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Anhinga
  • Brown Pelican
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Blue-Winged Teal
  • Laughing Gull
  • Common Yellowthroat

America The Beautiful Recreational Land Pass

Unfortunately, it isn’t free to enter into the national wildlife recreational facility and grounds. To enter, you’ll need to purchase an annual America the Beautiful Land Pass.

The price for this pass is as follows:

  • $80

Please read this PDF form to learn about the specific requirements and other important details regarding the pass if you plan to visit Bayou Sauvage in the near future.

Hiking Trails:

Although there is plenty of land encompassing the 23,000 acre area, there is technically only one main hiking trail for all of us to enjoy. I’ll tell you the name of this trail and other important details below.

The hiking trail is called:

  • Bayou Sauvage Ridge Trail – the best thing about this trail is that it’s easy to navigate and it’s very well maintained and the land is also relatively flat, so you will not have to struggle to walk along this wonderful bird watching path. Depending on your level of activity, you may decide to forgo walking the entire path since it’s 6.8 miles from start to finish. But on the other hand, if you do decide to walk the entirety of the path, you can complete your journey in two hours and 45 minutes, all the while seeing some amazing birds and other stunning wildlife.

Louisiana Birdwatching Clubs

One of my favorite things about living in Louisiana is that there are a number of wonderful bird watching clubs and National Audubon Society organizations for residents to join. And even if you happen to live out of state but visit Louisiana often, you can still join these bird watching clubs and become a member of this tight knit community.

As a member, you’ll have an option to become a part of the local chapter and participate in environmental preservation activities, field trips, special events, monthly meetings, educational opportunities, and so much more. You’ll absolutely love joining one or more bird watching clubs in the Creole State if bird watching and socializing seem like a great way to have a good time outdoors.

Baton Rouge Audubon Society

Birding enthusiasts living in Baton Rouge should seriously consider joining the BRAS, because this wonderful organization is dedicated to preserving natural wildlife habitats and biological concerns for birds, other wildlife, and all of the good creatures of this earth.

This community minded organization provides lots of opportunities to learn about the natural environment in Louisiana, birding basics, and so much more. If you like going on field trips or appreciate birding events, this is definitely going to be the organization for you.

Contact Info:

Mailing Address
PO Box 67016
Baton Rouge, LA 70896

Email: [email protected]

Past and Future Events:

  • Fall Birding Classes 2021 – the birding basics classes are being held at Hilltop Arboretum in Baton Rouge. The classes are held on September 29, October 6, October 13, and October 20 of this year from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. You’ll learn many birding skills in this class, and the education that Jane Patterson offers a second to none. Not only does this consist of one and a half hours of class time, you also get one and a half to three hours of bird walk time as well each week, which is truly amazing. To register for these classes, please visit this link. It cost $50 per person.
  • Birding Basics in Tangipahoa Parish – These classes are less expensive than the previous one mentioned since it only cost $20 to join. The birding basics classes take place on October 27, November 3, November 10, and November 17 of this year and they last from 8 AM to 11 AM. Similar to the previous class, you will learn birding skills in a lecture hall and also go on bird walks during each class for an hour to an hour and a half per visit.
  • Guided Bird Walks – these bird walks are ongoing and they are held by experienced birders on the first Saturday of every month at Bluebonnet Swamp and Nature Center in Baton Rouge. They charge an admission fee of three dollars per person, so if you plan to go, remember to pay your fee and bring your own binoculars. The meet up and subsequent bird walk begins at 7 AM on the first Saturday of every month.

Membership Fees:

Joining the Baton Rouge Audubon Society is very easy. You can either join on the National Audubon Society main page and use code K01 to become a member of the Baton Rouge chapter. Or you can visit this page and follow the on-screen instructions.

Better yet, if you feel like doing things the old-fashioned way, you can also download the printed membership form here, fill it out, and mail it in to the following address:

Baton Rouge Audubon Society
PO Box 67016
Baton Rouge, LA 70896

Membership levels are as follows:

  • Individual Membership – $25
  • Family Membership – $30
  • Rose-Breasted Grosbeak Membership – $100
  • Louisiana Waterthrush Membership – $250
  • Painted Bunting Membership – $500
  • Cerulean Warbler Membership – $1000

Gulf Coast Bird Club

The wonderful thing about joining the Gulf Coast Bird Club is you can connect with a group of like-minded individuals that are interested in providing conservation efforts for birdlife, wildlife, natural habitats, and other natural resources. They share their knowledge and wisdom through educational opportunities within the organization and they share this message with the general public.

The group has regular meetings, field trips, and other fun filled activities to participate in. You’ll have a blast getting to know other birdwatchers as you become an ingrained and dedicated member of this fun filled community.

Contact Info

Gulf Coast Bird Club
c/o M. El-Mogazi (Treasurer)
4820 Livingston St.
Lake Charles, LA 70607

Past and Future Events:

  • Niblett’s Bluff Park Bird Walk – this bird walk takes place every month on the fourth Saturday of the month. It begins at 8 AM and you and a group of other like-minded birders will meet David Booth at the park for a fun filled morning of birdwatching bliss. Bring your own binoculars and remember to dress appropriately depending on the weather of the specific time of the year.
  • Southwest Louisiana Garden Conference and Expo 2018 – this event took place on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 from 9 AM to 5 PM. It was a fun filled garden Expo that had lots of wonderful activities for the kids and it even encouraged the youngsters to become interested in birding.

Membership Fees:

It’s really easy to become a member of the Gulf Coast Bird Club. Please visit this link to download the PDF form and follow the instructions. You’re basically going to share your name, address, city, state, zip, phone number, and email address and then sign up to become a member at your chosen level. 

Membership levels include:

  • Individual Membership – $15
  • Student Membership – $8 dollars
  • Family Membership – $20 
  • Contributing Membership – $25 and up
  • Nonmember Newsletter Subscription – $10

Please fill out the form appropriately and send a check payable to Gulf Coast Bird Club to the following address:

Gulf Coast Bird Club
c/o M. El-Mogazi (Treasurer)
4820 Livingston St.
Lake Charles, LA 70607

Birding In Louisiana Wrap Up

While visiting Louisiana or if you are a resident and are looking for birding in Louisiana locations & birding clubs, we hope you take the time to explore the resources we have laid out here. And, if you come across other locations that you’d like to share, please contact us so we can include them here!

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