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Southwestern Louisiana is considered by many to be the premier birding destination in the state. With its combination of beaches, coastal and fresh marshes, remnant prairie, bottomland forest corridors, and coastal oak maritime forests (cheniers), the region is a birder’s paradise.

This is the most likely location in the state to find western vagrants, and many first-state records of birds like Painted Redstart, Pyrrhuloxia, and Ladder-backed Woodpecker have been recorded from this region.

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Birding is exceptional year-round. In spring, radar data shows that the area near the border of Texas and Louisiana has the largest concentration of neotropical migrant birds passing through the northern Gulf Coast on their way north. Given the right conditions between late March and early May, sandy beach ridges and hedgerows can teem with colorful warblers, grosbeaks, buntings, and vireos. The beaches are home to nesting Least Terns and Wilson’s Plovers, but also provide important stopover habitat for various waterbirds and seabirds. The marshes are filled with rails, wrens, and sparrows.

The nationally renowned Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, “Louisiana’s Outback,”  runs through Southwestern Louisiana. The trail is about 180 miles long, bringing visitors deep into the heart of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.  Since it is located along the Mississippi Flyway, it is a tour that birders and photographers do not want to miss. A specific point of interest is the Peveto Woods Bird and Butterfly Sanctuaries in Cameron Parish.  The Baton Rouge Audubon Society preserves this unique habitat and established the first chenier sanctuary for migratory birds.  Because so many birds use the site every year, this large coastal forest is a favorite spot for birders, especially during the spring and fall migration.

Good First Stops: Visiting birders driving in from the west should make Sam Houston Jones State Park near Lake Charles their first stop for information and birding. Those coming in from the north should stop first at the Louisiana State Arboretum adjacent to Chicot State Park and PJF Farm in northeastern Evangeline parish. Those coming from New Orleans and Baton Rouge should use Lafayette parish's Acadiana Park Nature Station and Trails as their portal site.