Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge (Boat Ramp Road Overlook)

Located in Concordia parish in east central Louisiana, the 14,668-acre Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge comprises some of the last remaining, least disturbed bottomland hardwood forests in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Because of that distinction, the refuge was designated a critical habitat for the Louisiana Black Bear. 

Due to the diversity of habitats here, including forest, cypress-tupelo swamp, and open water, this NWR is a birding paradise. Recorded species number 145. Sixteen waterfowl species, fourteen species of shorebirds, eight raptors, nine sparrows, and ten warblers are included on its checklist. 

This best birding introduction is accessed at a trailhead at the refuge headquarters’ parking area. Taking the gravel trail, birders will likely encounter species like the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-shouldered Hawk, several woodpecker and vireo species, and numerous warblers as they walk through the forest. During the fall and winter, many songbirds, including orioles, thrushes, and Gray Catbird, are also seen here. 

After a few hundred yards, the trail converts to an elevated boardwalk over a cypress swamp, eventually leading to a giant old-growth bald cypress overlooking the bayou. Here, expect swamp and riparian area dwellers such as Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and Barred Owls, along with numerous wading bird species. 

Site amenities include parking, nature trails, and interpretive/directional/identification signage. Outdoor recreationists also use the refuge for hunting, fishing, paddling, hiking, and nature photography.