Top Free & Paid Birding Watching Destinations In Mississippi

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Birding In Mississippi

Are you ready to discover all of the best birding in Mississippi hotspots? You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for the top free destinations to check out. I’ll share my favorite free bird-watching spaces with you located all throughout Mississippi.

If you’re looking for birding locations in nearby states, check out these resources: Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Additionally, f you are new to bird watching, be sure to read our birdwatching 101 guide.

Bird Watching Destinations In Mississippi: Free Destinations

Mississippi Sandhill Crane Wildlife Reservation – Free Admittance

This wildlife reservation is dedicated to a very rare subspecies of bird known as the Sandhill Crane. In particular, it’s designed to keep the Mississippi Sandhill Crane protected. This bird doesn’t migrate and nests along the Gulf Coast in the Pine Savannah. It’s a great refuge to see one of 129 of these rare birds, along with many other bird species.

Location:

7200 Crane Lane
Gaultier, MS 39553

Phone: 228-497-6322

Fax: 228-497-5407

GPS: 30° 28′ 18.59″ N, 88° 46′ 59.99″ W

Hours Of Operation:

Since this is a protected state park, the park is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset. At the time of this writing, the visitor center is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Check their website for more information.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMQAZEVafXI 

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Orchard Oriole
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Pine Warbler
  • Henslow’s Sparrow
  • Broad-Winged Hawk
  • Brown-Headed Nuthatch
  • Bachman’s Sparrow
  • Osprey
  • Northern Bobwhite
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker
  • Bald Eagle
  • Yellow Rail

Hiking Trails:

I’m happy to tell you that there are a few very easy hiking trails to walk along as you view these majestic birds in their natural habitat. You’ll especially enjoy walking the trail and seeing one of more than 100 Mississippi Sandhill Cranes, because these rare and beautiful birds are not only present in this reservation, they are also beginning to grow and expand their population here.

The name of the hiking trails in this region are:

  • C. L. Dees Nature Trail – the best thing about this particular trail is that it’s relatively short and relatively easy to walk along because they’ve cut a clear path and maintain this path fairly regularly. Even though it’s a dirt road, there aren’t any obstructions, rocks, big hills, or other problems in your way. It’s basically smooth sailing for 0.8 miles, which should take around 20 minutes to complete from start to finish.
  • Fontainebleau Nature Trail – this easy to navigate this clearly defined trail that’s very similar to the previous one with one big exception. It’s twice the size! So instead of traveling 0.8 miles, you’ll travel 1.6 miles to complete the entirety of the trail from beginning to end. This should take you no more than 40 minutes to complete if you walk the entire trail at an average pace.

Ansley Preserve – Free Bird Watching

I always love recommending Ansley Preserve because it’s truly one of the hottest birding areas in Mississippi during the fall migration. You’ll see beautiful songbirds and many other diverse bird species particularly during the migratory period, but these species tend to stay in the area all year round as well. It’s a great place to visit with family members, friends, coworkers, or anyone else who’s important in your life.

Location:

Ainsley Road
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520

GPS: 30.21650 -89.48783

Hours Of Operation:

The preserve and birding trail is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XSlsHj_Fnc 

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Tricolored Heron
  • Nelson’s Sparrow
  • Shiny Cowbird
  • Gull-Billed Tern
  • Vermillion Flycatcher
  • Sedge Wren
  • Painted Bunting
  • Clapper Rail
  • Black Skimmer
  • Least Tern
  • Least Bittern
  • Seaside Sparrow

Hiking Trails:

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to dig up too much information about hiking trails in the region. I know there’s a boardwalk that leads to a pond, there’s a bridge that you’ll get to walk over as you walk around the preserve, and there are other unnamed trails that you’ll be happy to walk along as you look at the amazing birds in the area.

I highly recommend walking around the preserve to check out the beautiful natural wildlife. Besides all the amazing birds that I told you about, there are also wild animals to enjoy as well, but nothing too dangerous.

Pearl River State Wildlife Management Area – Free Entrance

I’m particularly fond of the Pearl River State Wildlife Management Area because just like me and many other birders, this area of Jackson, Mississippi, has become very favored for bird watching. In the area, you’ll discover more than 200 species of birds, and you’ll have to travel along a well-maintained unpaved road to get to them. You can enter the area for free to enjoy the beautiful scenery, the gorgeous wildlife, and a plentiful supply of birds in their natural habitat.

Location:

Highway 43
Canton, MS 39046

Phone: 601-859-3421

GPS: 30°18′30″N 89°40′19″W

Hours Of Operation:

Pearl River State WMA is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. This beautiful wildlife refuge is home to many wild animals in beautiful habitats to preserve their health and well-being.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82Hy8jCsEyY 

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Summer Tanager
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker
  • Mississippi Kite
  • Anhinga
  • American White Pelican
  • Yellow-Throated Warbler
  • Wood Thrush
  • Bald Eagle
  • Purple Gallinule
  • King Rail
  • Wild Turkey

Hiking Trails:

Just like the previous entry I made; I am unfortunately going to tell you that there aren’t too many named hiking trails with a lot of information about them. In fact, I only came across one hiking trail in the area that I can tell you about.

The name of the hiking trail is as follows:

  • Natchez Trace Parkway – Cypress Swamp Hike – first off, it’s possible that this particular hiking trail is closed but I cannot find confirming information at this point. This is an easy hiking trail to say the least, because it’s flat and simple to navigate. Overall, the trail is 0.4 miles long, which should take the average hiker about 10 minutes to walk from beginning to end.

Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge – Free Admittance

It’s my great pleasure to tell you that the Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge is merely 25 miles south of Greenville. This splendid land encompasses 1300 acres of wetlands, ponds, lakes, and agricultural land as well. The refuge is home to a plethora of waterfowl and many other bird species that you’ll be happy to see the next time you visit this beautiful location with family members and friends.

Location:

595 Yazoo Refuge Rd.
Hollandale, MS 38748

Phone: 662-839-2638

GPS: 33.0809° N, 90.9711° W

Hours Of Operation:

The gates of the wildlife refuge open at 4 AM and close at 8 PM every day. All lands are currently managed by TR Complex, including this refuge.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp_LRymtkSU 

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Painted Bunting
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Double-Crested Cormorant
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker
  • Anhinga
  • Dickcissel
  • Mississippi Kite
  • Wood Duck
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Snowy Egret
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Great Egret

Hiking Trails:

If you like hiking like I do, then you’ll definitely appreciate the few hiking trails located in Yazoo City, Mississippi near the Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge. Although I only discovered two, they are easy to walk along and they place you right in the heart of mother nature, where you can view beautiful birds at your leisure.

The names of the hiking trails are as follows:

  • Hillside National Wildlife Refuge Trail – this trail is very easy to navigate and easy to walk along because they take good care of the trail and keep it clean and free of dirt and debris. It’s 2.7 miles long, so it’s going to take you a little while the finish. In fact, the average walker takes about an hour and 10 minutes to finish this trail.
  • Alligator Slough Nature Trail – this trail is much shorter than the previous one at 0.7 miles. It’s also very easy to walk and well-maintained, so you should have no trouble getting from the beginning of the trail to the end in about 20 minutes tops.

Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge – Free Bird Watching

This wildlife refuge is definitely a favorite of mine and it’s also a favorite of many of the Mississippi residents located in and around Noxubee. It encompasses 48,000 acres of land, and you’ll find many cypress trees in the region. This is the perfect home to wading birds, woodpeckers, and many other species of wonderful avian wildlife.

Location:

Visitor Center

13723 Bluff Lake Road
Brooksville, MS 39739

Phone: 662-323-5548

Fax: 662-323-6390

GPS: 33°17′39.7608″N 88°46′43.6801″W

Hours Of Operation:

The park itself is open from sunrise to sunset seven days a week.

The visitor center, on the other hand, is open from Monday through Friday between 7:30 AM and 4 PM. And please note that the visitor center is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/?v=K4ngMlhwRXI 

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • White Ibis
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Mississippi Kite
  • Great Egret
  • Wood Stork
  • Bald Eagle
  • Purple Gallinule
  • Brown-Headed Nuthatch
  • Pine Warbler
  • Anhinga
  • Snowy Egret
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker

Hiking Trails:

Like most of Mississippi, I had a difficult time finding the best hiking trails in Starkville, MS and the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. But I did find two trails that I would like to share with you below.

The names of these hiking trails are as follows:

  • MSU Technology Park Loop – this is a very easy hiking trail and it isn’t that long either, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finishing the trail by walking it from beginning to end. The total trail is 1.9 miles long, which takes the average walker about 55 minutes to complete.
  • Woodpecker Trail – this trail is much shorter than the one we shared with you above, because it is only 0.5 miles long. The total length of the trail is 1050 steps if you’re counting! All in all, it should only take about 15-20 minutes to complete this trail from beginning to end.

Bird Watching Destinations In Mississippi: Paid Destinations

Gulf Islands National Seashore – Paid Admittance, Paid Parking

There are six main islands for visitors to peruse when they visit the Mississippi units of Gulf Islands National Seashore. Birders particularly enjoy visiting the Davis Bayou Area, which is located in Ocean Springs. It’s a great place to walk around throughout the Maritime Forest and check out the open water, the bayou, the scan marsh, and I really enjoyed the spring migration.

Location:

Davis Bayou Area Gulf Islands National Seashore

3500 Park Rd.
Ocean Springs, MS 39564

Phone: 288-230-4100

GPS: 30.3919° N, 88.7911° W

Hours Of Operation:

The Davis Bayou Area is open 365 days a year from 8 AM to sunset every day. The visitor center opens from 9 AM to 4:30 PM every day along with the bookstore and the fishing pier. The boat launch and picnic area remain open from 6 AM to sunset.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJMouFhOzhU 

Entrance Fees:

  • Pedestrians and cyclists: 7-day pass – $15
  • Motorcycles: 7-day pass – $20
  • Vehicles: 7-day pass – $25
  • Park Annual Pass: $45

Popular Birds Found At This Destination:

  • Barred Owl
  • Clapper Rail
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker
  • Seaside Sparrow
  • Brown-Headed Nuthatch
  • Brown Pelican
  • American Oystercatcher
  • Black Skimmer
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Least Tern
  • Osprey
  • Snowy Plover

Hiking Trails:

Thankfully I get to tell you that there are some very nice hiking trails on the premises of the Davis Bayou Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi. These hiking trails vary in length, but they are very easy to traverse and easy to travel along because the path is clear, easily defined, and its relatively flat ground. This provides many unique opportunities to see a wonderful array of wild birds.

  • CCC Overlooked Trail – this hiking trail is easy to navigate and it’s on flat ground, which makes it very easy to walk along. The total length is 1.1 mile in distance, which means it should only take about an hour to an hour and 10 minutes to complete this trail.
  • Gulf Islands Seashore: William Colmer Visitor Center Trails – this trail is also fairly short and easy to walk along and it shouldn’t take you too long to complete it. In total, the trail is 0.8 miles, which means you can finish it in about an hour without much difficulty.
  • Nature’s Way Trail – this trail is definitely the shortest that I’ll share with you now and it’s also easy to navigate and relatively flat. The total distance is 0.5 miles, which should take an average walker about 16 minutes to complete.
  • Perdido Key – of the six trails that I’m sharing today, this is the longest of the bunch. It’s 4.5 miles long and very easy to travel because it’s smooth and clear and free of obstructions. Overall, it should take the average person about an hour and 50 minutes to finish.
  • Gulf Islands Seashore: Davis Bayou Area – also an easy trail, this lush path takes you right along the water and provides a beautiful vista and view. Overall, the trail is 4.1 miles long, which can take about an hour and a half to complete.
  • Naval Live Oaks Trail – this simple to navigate trail is 3.1 miles in total distance. If you walk fast enough, you can finish this trail in about an hour and 10 minutes.

Mississippi Birdwatching Clubs

Like so many incredible states in the US, Mississippi is well known as one of the top birdwatching capitals in the country. This gorgeous state showcases a wide array of birds who visit many of the refuges and state parks including New World Warblers, Tufted Titmice, Mourning Doves, Eastern Bluebirds, Downy Woodpeckers, and more. Connect with other like-minded people by joining one of the exciting bird watching clubs mentioned below.

Mississippi Coast Audubon Society

The MCAS is an organization with a rich and storied history that was first chartered in 1976. This group of birders recognized the need to form this group to help protect and conserve the environment while educating the public and other interested individuals at the same time. Becoming a member of this club will connect you with other birders just like you.

Past and Future Events

  • Jones Park and Beach – this event took place on March 13 in Harrison County and was led by Lori McDonald. They met at 7:30 AM and walked along the beach and viewed a plethora of shorebirds and migrants along their travels.
  • Ladner Pier and Hancock Beaches – Barbara Bowen took a group to the beach first on March 27 for the Audubon Coastal Bird Survey. They met at 7:30 in the morning and observed local birds for an hour and then moved on to complete the survey at Ladner Pier.
  • Ansley Preserve – Nancy Madden led a group of birders to this desirable destination on April 17. Everyone met at 7 AM and walked through the preserve while viewing birds and wildlife, all the while enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company.

Membership Fees

The MCAS is actually a chapter of the National Audubon Society. To become a member of this organization, you also have to become a member of the NAS by visiting this page and making a minimum donation of $20, but more is welcome.

Choose Mississippi Coast Audubon Society code M53 at checkout.

Audubon Mississippi

This chapter of the National Audubon Society has a number of different programs for habitat conservation, education, and more. It’s one of the friendliest birding communities in the entire state of Mississippi. They provide bird conservation efforts, field trips and other events, regular meetings, and more. Join this great group if you’re looking to connect with other birders in this wonderful state.

Past and Future Events

At the time of this writing, Audubon Mississippi doesn’t have any scheduled upcoming events, most likely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many birding groups and Audubon Society chapters are just beginning to host in-person events in the near future, but not all of these organizations are back to full strength.

To help you better understand, the group at Audubon Mississippi typically hosts many different types of events including those focused on birding, conferences, conservation, festivals, field trips, community events, town halls, and much more. If any of this sounds appealing, then you should definitely consider joining this prestigious organization.

Membership Fees

You can join this group by becoming a member of the National Audubon Society and choosing Audubon Mississippi from the drop-down menu at checkout. Visit this page to get started becoming a member right away.

Final Thoughts About Mississippi Birding Resources & Locations

Mississippi offers a wide variety of birding destinations and resources and this article is a great starting point. Be sure to explore these wonderful locations and let us know of new places as you birdwatch in this great state, so we can add them to this article!

Enjoy these great locations and watching Mississippi birds in their natural habitat, please share this resource with friends, loved ones, and coworkers. If you love birding inMississippi, then you’re definitely going to love these gorgeous locations scattered throughout the Magnolia State,Mississippi!