Eastbound on I-10, just 1.62 miles east of the Texas/Louisiana state line in Vinton, Louisiana.

If you think the Louisiana Welcome Center is just a place to get travel information, think again. It’s actually a fitting place to start a Louisiana birding adventure.

The site is small but filled with a variety of habitats. There’s a small lake lined with freshwater marsh on the south end, a cypress-tupelo swamp to the east (complete with boardwalk), and a bottomland hardwood forest and swamp along the western edge of the lake. There’s a covered gazebo there, excellent for setting up a spotting scope to view any waterfowl that may be present. Several hard-surfaced walkways lead to the lake’s edge, winding through live oaks and young bald cypresses.

Birding visitors from the northern and eastern U.S. will immediately appreciate Great-tailed Grackle, a species seen here throughout the year. Wading birds, like herons, egrets, and ibises, are also year-round residents. Seasonal visitors include water-loving raptors in the spring and summer, Osprey in the spring and fall, and Bald Eagle in winter, spring, and fall.

The boardwalk, offering excellent viewing of both woodland and waterbird species, is handicapped-accessible. The center’s amenities include restrooms, video exhibits of attractions throughout the state, and an interactive exhibit showcasing Louisiana’s state parks, golf courses, state museums, scenic byways, and heritage sites. 

Visitors Center/Nature Center