From alligators to armadillos, the varied habitats of St. Landry Parish foster wildlife as diverse as its people. But of all the things to do in Louisiana, one of the most serene has to be the act of bird watching.
Pictured here is a Prothonotary Warbler. This bright, mustard-colored bird, known locally as the “Atchafalaya Canary”, flits along branches in swamps and bottomland forests. The bright yellow of this bird’s head contrasts with the stark black of its beak and eyes. The gradation of yellow to the steel blue of its wings and tail of the Prothonotary Warbler separates itself from the similar looking Blue-Winged Warbler by its lack of both white stripes across its wing and black streak across its eye.
You can catch a glimpse of an Atchafalaya Canary at the Thistlethwaite Wildlife Management Area. Located near the steamboat town of Washington, this secluded area brings you to 11,000 acres of mature bottomland hardwoods. Majestic oaks, tall mysterious cypress and tupelo trees, and stately hackberry trees greet you in this habitat. Encircled by bayous Courtableau and Wauksha, with ample swamps and sloughs dotting the quiet of this ethereal landscape, the conditions are right to see the warbler along shorelines and the holes of dead trees during spring and summer months. See this map of trails and roads to help guide you. It is important to note that these trails offer a challenging hike, and locals suggest the use of rubber boots for potentially flooded trails.
You can also find within St. Landry Parish, the Roseate Spoonbill. Distinguished by long knobby legs, their unmistakable rounded bills, and bright pink coloring, these medium-sized birds make themselves home in the shallow waters of crawfish ponds and large ditches beside our scenic byways. Other birds found of the Threskiornithidae family in St. Landry Parish are the White, Glossy, and White-faced Ibises. Drive along the Zydeco Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway and birdwatch to local music stations like KBON 101.1 FM, KOGM 107.1 FM, and KEUN 105.5 FM while you check these birds off your list.
Another long-limbed bird found in St. Landry is the Wood Stork. Your best bet to catch one of these large birds is at the Indian Bayou or Sherburne Wildlife Management Areas, both of which are accessed through the port town of Krotz Springs. Sherburne takes up over 40,000 acres of the Atchafalaya Basin, spanning several parishes, while the Indian Bayou Area spans 28,500 acres along the west side of the Atchafalaya River. With so much ground to cover, you may want to fill up on boudin at one of the local shops before beginning your trek.
If you want to take a different spin on your next birding adventure, the T.E.C.H.E. Project has built duck houses along the Bayou Teche. Paddle along the twists and turns of this historic bayou and you’ll be able to see waterfowl like the colorful Wood Duck pictured here. While you scan the shores of the Teche’s lazy current, be sure to visit the informational kiosks at Port Barre, Leonville, and one soon to be erected in Arnaudville, to give you an idea of the stories of life along the Teche and its historical significance.
Whether you’re exploring the waterways of the Louisiana Atchafalaya Basin at the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area and Indian Bayou, paddling along languid bayous, or hiking alongside pecan trees and quiet trails at Thistlethwaite Wildlife Management Area, you can find a wide range of birds to enjoy.
Here is a list curated by Shreveport’s Bird Study Group for the Louisiana Parish Checklist Project undertaken by Rosemary Seidler. This list, pulling from resources like Shreveport’s Bird Study Group database, Louisiana Bird Records Committee (LBRC) Reports, Dan Purrington’s “The Birds of Southeastern Louisiana”, Lowrey’s “Louisiana Birds”, eBird, and reports from birders throughout the state, can give you an idea of what you can find within St. Landry Parish. Some of the sightings might surprise you, and the list itself includes over 271 species of birds. Entries in all caps should be reported to the LBRC. This list is not all-inclusive so you might find a bird no one has seen yet in this area.
In St. Landry Parish, you can hike trails and take your time exploring hidden paths in between enjoying good food and tons of live music. It’s time to begin your adventure, today.
Mary Hawkins is communications manager for the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission. Contact her at [email protected]
Birds of St. Landry Photo Gallery
Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird