Where to Bird

Looking for a place to go birding around Baton Rouge?

Roseate Spoonbill w/ babies

There are great places to bird around Baton Rouge. The places listed below are all within an hour's drive of the city limits or even here in town! You're not going to see as much variety within the city limits, of course, as if you get out of town. And here's a tip: look for water. Water = birds! This list is always being updated, so check back for more information. If you have any comments or suggestions, please send us an email

last updated Sept 2011

(Please note this list is alphabetical order)


Blackwater Conservation Area

Corner of Hooper and Blackwater roads in North Baton Rouge (actually the community of Central)
Click here for map

General Description: The Blackwater Conservation Area was developed through the cooperation between the Army Corps of Engineers - New Orleans District, the City of Baton Rouge/East Baton Rouge Parish, and the Parks and Recreation Commission for East Baton Rouge Parish (BREC). In 1998, the City/Parish had located this site as a mitigation area for drainage projects. The Corps suggested that the City/Parish consider the rest of the site as an ecosystem restoration under the authority of Section 206 of the 1996 Water Resources Development Act. BREC agreed to operate and maintain this area as a natural conservation area. (excerpt from website at http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/prj/cap/blackwater/)

Although it's been in development for almost 10 years, this area still needs a lot of recovery. The good stuff: it has bathrooms, water fountains, nice wide trails with gravel paths, and ample parking. It used to be a dirt pit, if you look at the area with Google Earth, it looks almost barren. You can see the two or three lake areas and wide trails around them. Today the successional growth has covered up everything that was clear-cut, but it still has a long way to go. There a few large cypress trees and more mature trees on the northern and eastern edges of the property. The area around the lakes is wide open – no shade on a hot summer day. There is one path through the woods that leads to an opening on the river—a nice little sandy beach area. As far as I know, one of the Comite River’s few public access areas. Bordered by Hooper Rd, so there is traffic noise when you are in the open areas, but not so much in the woods. Tallow trees abound – hopefully BREC will control before they take over. Fisherman have been using the lake every time I’ve visited.

Interesting Birds you might see here:

Summer: Red-shouldered Hawk, Anhinga, Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Stork, Painted & Indigo Bunting

Winter: White-throated Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Forster's Tern, Orange-crowned Warbler

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Hours of operation: not posted …dawn to dusk?

Admission? No

Trails? Yes – gravel trails around the lakes and a clear trail through the woods

Notes: Park is used by some exercisers and dog walkers and a few fisherman. Sheriff deputies do patrol the area but would still advise not to leave valuables in the car.



Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

10503 North Oak Hills Parkway Baton Rouge, LA 70810

Click here for map

(225) 757-8905

www.brec.org (look at park directory)

General Description: This is a Baton Rouge Recreation Commission (BREC) city park located off Bluebonnet Dr in south Baton Rouge. It consists of 100+ acres of preserved swampland. This is the real thing, complete with spiders and snakes…but I’ve never seen an alligator here outside of a cage. There are “woodsy” areas around the nature center and then boardwalks that take you down into the swamp. Mainly cypress/tupelo trees in the swamp, mixed hardwood above with lots of understory growth. They maintain the trails and pretty much let everything else be natural. Surrounded by residential and commercial areas, so human noises tend to interfere with nature sounds, esp on Saturday mornings. Popular with families, kids’ groups, so will often see them on Sat – quieter during the week. Bird checklist provided at the counter. The nature center has great exhibits, especially of snakes and other reptiles that kids especially will enjoy. The pictures displayed are taken by a local volunteer photographer John Hartgerink, who has captured everything from Great Horned Owlets to a rat snake swallowing cardinal eggs.

Birds you might see here:

Summer: White Ibis, Prothonotary Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher, nesting Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Winter: Great-Horned Owl (nesting), White-throated Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing

Year round: Pileated Woodpecker, Barred Owl

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Hours of operation: Tuesday-Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.Sunday: 12-5 p.m. Closed Mondays All trails close at 5 p.m

Admission?
Yes

Trails? Yes – nice trails and boardwalks

Notes: fairly popular family-oriented park. If birding, best to go as early as possible -- look for special bird walk events.



Capitol and DOTD Lakes

North of the state capitol building and west of the DOTD building

GPS coordinates (approx): 30.27.39N x 91.11.10W
Click here for a map

General Description: The Capitol Park area that surrounds the Louisiana State Capitol can be a good place for birds, especially during fall and winter for wading birds and over-wintering ducks. The grounds feature a variety of trees, but tends to be “manicured” rather than “woodsy”. There are concrete or gravel walking trails and paths in Arsenal Park, east of the capitol, and along the lake banks.The areas around the west side are accessible. The east side is residential so the lake cannot be accessed there, although there is a spot to the northeast in an industrial area where you access a field and the northeast corner of the lake. Ash-throated Flycatchers have been seen here more than once in the winter. The DOTD lake is around the corner from the Capitol -- it's north of the Governor's Mansion and west of the DOTD building.It is also near a residential area and it also seems to be on a major truck route and near a trainyard, so there are lots of industrial and ambient noises. It's a shallow lake that often hosts White Ibis in the summer and Gadwalls in the winter. Park along the side of the road in designated parking areas near the lakes & Arsenal Park.(During the legislative session most of this parking is taken during the business day.) On the west side, you can park in any spot that is not marked Reserved.

Interesting Birds you might see here:

Summer: Belted Kingfisher, Red-tailed Hawk, Baltimore & Orchard Oriole, Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Mississippi Kite

Winter: Hooded Merganser, Ruddy Duck, White Pelican, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Vaux's Swift, Great-horned Owl

Year around: Barred Owl, Wood Duck

Unusual sighting for the area: Bald Eagle, Roseate Spoonbill, Peregrine Falcon (on the Capitol in the winter), Horned Grebe, Ash-throated Flycatcher

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Hours of operation: dawn to dusk

Admission? No

Trails? Somewhat (see note above)

Notes: Public Safety police patrol the area regularly.



City Park Lake and University Lake System

1442 City Park Avenue

GPS coordinates (approx): 30.25.17N x 91.10.03W
Click here for a map

(225) 343-0461 or (225) 344-4501

147.46 acres +

www.brec.org (look at park directory)

General Description: This is a Baton Rouge Recreation Commission (BREC) city park located in the heart of Baton Rouge, near Louisiana State University. It has a large lake that ties into the University lake system. The lakes host lots of resident water and wading fowl, as well as migratory birds. The park has playgrounds, tennis courts and other facilities near the residential area on the north side, but doesn’t really have walking trails. It also lacks wooded areas, although it does feature several great live oak trees and a few cypress. There was a golf course here, but the area is being remodeled for other uses (see BREC website). On the south side of City Park lake, where it joins with University Lake, there is a beach area with a small deck that is popular with local residents who like to feed the pigeons and ducks. Lots of Baton Rouge residents walk, jog, and bike around the lakes for exercise, often in the road because there are no trails that ring the lakes. Be careful looking for birds while driving - don't hit the walkers/joggers! There are several cypress trees with Spanish moss in the lakes, which are not only picturesque but also used by resident birds for roosting. Of particular note is an area on the north side of the lake near Morning Glory lane at approximately 2622 E. Lakeshore Dr. There’s a small cluster of cypress trees in a cove in the lake that is used as a night roost by the herons, Ibis, and egrets. It’s very entertaining to watch the birds come in from about an hour before dusk! Surrounded by residential areas, including an intersecting Interstate highway, so human noises tend to interfere with nature sounds nearly all the time.

As you explore the area around these lakes, you might come across an area labeled "LSU Bird Refuge" and think "What a great place to look for birds!" It is, in fact, one of the only "wild" areas around these lakes. However, it's strictly off-limits, even to LSU personnel. The closest you might get is if you access it from the water by kayak or canoe, but you really are not supposed to enter the area. More's the pity.

Interesting Birds you might see here:

Summer: White Ibis, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Green Heron, Barn Swallow

Winter: White Pelican, Forster’s Tern, American Coot

Year round: Egrets, Tri-colored Heron, White Ibis, Wood Duck

Unusual sightings for the area: Vaux's Swifts (winter), Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Hours of operation: dawn to dusk

Admission? No

Trails? Not really

Notes: Definitely have to pay attention to your surroundings since you’re birding on city streets full of walker/joggers!


Comite River Trail System

8900 Hooper Road, Baton Rouge

Click here for map

(225) 272-9200

100.40 acres

General Description: This unusual park is very easy to miss when driving by on Hooper road. The parking lot is set back off the road, and a simple BREC sign advertises the entrance. This facility is designed primarily for mountain bikers, and includes almost 5 miles of trails, ranging from basic to advanced. The trails take advantage of the uneven topography along the Comite River and weave through the fairly dense woods. There is a brackish lake near the front of the property. This facility does have a covered picnic area and nice restrooms with a refrigerated water fountain. Amazingly hilly terrain for an area this close to Baton Rouge! I’m sure the bikers don’t really appreciate birders cluttering up their trails. Birders will have to remember to step off the trail if bikers come by or if they set their sights on something so as not to be in the way. Not always easy to do as some of the trails are narrow and often include blind turns. Although there was a box for maps, the box was empty when I was there and the maze of trails was confusing. I would think with five miles of trails, it would be easy to get turned around and go in circles.

Birds you might see here:

Summer: Red-shouldered Hawk, White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler

Winter:


Hours of operation: not posted on website – dawn to dusk?

Admission? No

Trails? Yes – narrow trails designed for bikers

Notes: Serious danger of being run over by a biker.


Highland Road Park

(behind the Observatory)

14024 Highland Road, Baton Rouge
Click here for map

General Description: From BREC’s website: “Bottomland Hardwood Forest Walking Trail Project The walking trail offers a place where individuals, university classes, scout groups, classroom children, and families can enjoy an educational hike through a lovely bottomland hardwood forest. The trail is divided into two paths, Semita Major (big path) and Semita Minor (little path). Trail visitors can expect about a mile of hiking path between the two, highlighting the plant species that inhabit the area. “ Sounds good, huh? The reality is that these trails have not been maintained since Katrina/Rita came through. The trail heads are hard to find behind the Observatory. There are large trees and lots of growth over the trails, especially on the slope that leads down to the floodplain. When you get down to the bottom, things open up more and you’re in a woods with a high canopy and lots of palmetto. The trail along the bayou has some deep cuts intersecting it, not all of which are easily passable. Bottom line – until BREC does some trail maintenance, this is a location for the more intrepid explorers.

Birds you might see here:

Summer: Red-shouldered Hawk, White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler

Winter:

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Hours of operation: Monday - Thursday until 9 p.m. Friday's until 8 p.m. Saturday's from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Admission? No

Trails? Yes…kinda. See comments above

Notes: little used park, fairly secluded woods - although Highland Rd itself is a busy road. Be careful and don't go alone.

Comments from Jane Patterson: Despite the fairly mature woods and the proximity to the bayou, I didn’t find this to be a particularly birdy area. Maybe I was too busy picking spiders off my face – they were very plentiful when I was there in late summer!!


Hooper Road Park

6261 Guynell Drive, Baton Rouge

Click here for map

(225) 357-7903

232.85 acres

General Description: I’m not sure if this park is considered to be in Baker or in Central, but it’s in the northern part of the parish near the airport and the zoo. The park has a rec center, restrooms (which are in pretty rough shape), ball fields, playgrounds, and tennis courts. There are some trails designated as “horse trails”, but it’s obvious no horses have been on them for a while – they are pretty overgrown with some limbs on the trail. There is a small lake near the closest horse trail where you’re likely to find wading birds. The bike trails on the opposite side appear to be well-used and traverse nice woods and a pipeline area. There is a sign pointing to a Walking trail, but the trail head is obscured, so I’m not sure where the trail really is. On the east side of the park there is what appears to be another horse trail, but the woods are much younger and mostly consist of tallow.

Birds you might see here:

Summer: Red-shouldered Hawk, White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler

Winter:

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Hours of operation: dawn to dusk

Admission? No

Trails? Yes – natural trails, some designated as “horse trails”, “biking trails” and “walking trails”

Notes: surrounded by several subdivisions. Use care if visiting alone early in the morning


Mary Ann Brown Nature Preserve

Hwy 965 near St. Francisville, LA

Click here for map

http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/louisiana/preserves/art6857.html

General Description: This is a nice site just north of Baton Rouge near St. Francisville. It’s owned by the Nature Conservancy. The 110-acre property has well-marked trails that have been improved in some areas with steps, handrails, and such for safety, as this area tends to be much hillier. As a matter of fact, this area looks, and is, more like the Appalachians than a typical Louisiana landscape. In fact, there are even eastern Chipmunks here – which can really perplex you as their alarm call is unfamiliar and sounds like it could be some kind of strange bird! This is a recovering beech and magnolia forest, but there are also oaks, pines, and even a stand of cedar that was obviously planted. There is a large pond on the property with a viewing gazebo. A pavilion is on the property but is not open unless reserved in advance (which includes the bathrooms).

Birds you might see here:

Summer: Red-shouldered Hawk, White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Summer Tanager, Barn Swallow

Winter:

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Hours of operation: dawn to dusk

Admission? No

Trails? Yes, well-marked natural trails

Notes: This is a rural area, but one that is designed for hikers and nature viewers. Birders are advised against going alone, and should definitely take a cell phone.

Comments: No restrooms, no drinking water. Generally “feels” rural, but you will hear road traffic in some areas of the property.


Richfield Riversilt >

7929 River Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70820

Click here for map

General Description: This is a popular site for birding near Baton Rouge, although it is private property. Birders must call ahead for permission to enter! Please email us for contact information. This is a working sand and silt pit, so there are often trucks moving in and out, although not so much on weekends. This is not particularly spectacular habitat as the landscape at this location is constantly changing, since the earth is being moved all the time. There are usually “borrow pits” on the property that hold groundwater and will often host wading and even shorebirds during migration season. In fact, some are static enough to support fish and sometimes you can find fisherman on the property. This area is on the banks of the Mississippi River, and sometimes there are sand bars in the river which may yield shorebirds or White Pelicans in fall and winter. Wood Storks are often present in late summer and early fall. Most of the vegetation here is successional growth – willows, tallow, locust and LOTS of ragweed (great for fall birds! not so great for allergic birders). There are few large trees on the north end of the property. Good area during spring and fall migrations, as birds following the Mississippi Flyway tend to follow the river. Signs of wildlife (rabbit, deer, coyote, skunk) abound.

If you are interested in birding here, contact us and we'll pass along the owner contact information.

Click here to see pictures from a visit in July 2010

Birds you might see here:

Summerr: Egrets, Osprey, Roseate Spoonbill, White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Mississippi Kite, Yellow-breasted Chat, Wood Stork

Winter: Bald Eagle, Cedar Waxwing

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Hours of operation: not open to public. Advised to use on weekends when trucks are not working, with permission.

Admission? No

Trails? No. There are “roads” of a sort. The north end is particularly overgrown with giant ragweed and brambles at the moment (Fall ’07)

Notes:: this is a secluded, unpopulated area, and working dirt pit with large trucks. Birders are advised against going alone, and should definitely take a cell phone.

Comments: No restrooms, no drinking water, no trash containers. This area is more remote than most locations for birding around Baton Rouge, so there is less human noise, although you will hear sounds from ships, boats on the river, and even the opposite shore.


Sherburne Wildlife Management Area - South Farm

just north of I-10, near Ramah & Maringuoin, LA

Click here for map

(337) 948-0255

website

This location has arguably the best birding within a 30 minute drive of Baton Rouge in terms of variety of birdlife. Sherburne Wildlife Management Area is situated in the lower and upper portions of Pointe Coupee, St. Martin, and Iberville Parishes respectively, between the Atchafalaya River and the East Protection Guide Levee. The Sherburne WMA, Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lands combine to form a 44,000 acre tract. The area is managed as one unit by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. South Farm contains several water impoundments which are managed for crawfish in the spring and primarily waterfowl (for hunting) in the winter.Naturally, since there is a food source, and one particularly favorable to wading birds, they can be found here, as well as shorebirds in migration and winter (to a lesser degree). There are some fairly new growth woods near the entrance of the property, with larger stands of cypress and related stands closer to the back of the property.The ponds or impoundments are the real draw here. This location requires a LOT of walking. A great observation deck was built in 2010 in the center of the property that provides 360 degree visibility, but it's about a 1.5 mile walk in. The bathrooms are about .5 miles from the parking lot. A loop from the parking lot to the observation tower and then back down the road by the ranger station is about a 3 mile hike, with little to no shade. Not easy to do in the heat of summer!

An annual "Shorebird and Wood Stork Event" is planned for this location in late July each year. Look for notices!

There is a Bald Eagle nest very near the parking lot of South Farm - possibly the closest one to Baton Rouge. It's actually east of the parking lot in an ag field in a large water oak tree, but very visible from the top of the levee or the side levee road near South Farm. This pair produced a single chick in 2009 and two chicks in 2010. The nest is easy to observe in the tree from the public road -- please DO NOT TRESPASS in order to get closer to the birds. For one thing it's illegal, for another, it makes the birds nervous, and for a third, it makes the landowners angry! Enjoy the birds from the road!

Getting here is a bit tricky. Exit the Ramah-Maringuoin exit from I-10 and go north on Hwy 3000. Turn left on the frontage road and then right on Taylor road to go through the tiny village of Ramah. Cross over the bayou bridge and you'll come to a T at the levee road. The "No Trespassing" sign here is a bit daunting -- basically it's indicating that the levee itself is off limits. Turn right on the gravel levee road and travel north for about 1.5 miles. You'll see a small sign on the left hand side that says "South Farm". Turn left here and go up and over the levee to the parking area. There is a self-clearing permit station here. Fill out one card for each person (one person in the party should put a card in the car as well). You must also have a valid hunting, fishing, or Wild LA stamp to enter the WMA. Be prepared to walk -- there is no car access at all under normal circumstances; off road vehicles are allowed on some trails.


Birds you might see here:

Summer: Red-shouldered Hawk, White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Osprey, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Herons & Egrets, Purple Gallinule

Winter:Bald Eagle, LeConte's Sparrow, Vermilion Flycatcher

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Year round: Pileated Woodpecker, Egrets,

Hours of operation: dawn to dusk

Admission? No (must have valid LA hunting, fishing license or Wild LA stamp -- see Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries website www.wlf.louisiana.gov)

Trails? Sort of. There is a main road, and there are levees that are mostly used by ATV's.

Notes: usually there are fisherman near the entrance & parking lot.There are LDWF rangers working during the week, and you will occasionally see enforcement agents there on weekend. During hunting season, it's STRONGLY advised to stick to the roads -- you don't want to get shot and you don't want to spook the game.

Comments:Be prepared to walk when visiting this site! And the bathroom is about half a mile from the parking lot.


Tickfaw State Park

27225 Patterson Road, Springfield, LA 70462-8906

Click here for a map

225-294-5020 or 888-981-2020 toll free

Website

This park is a 45-minute drive from the eastern edge of Baton Rouge. It’s a state park with well-marked trails, boardwalks, nature center, restroom facilities, and vending machines. Easy drive east on the Interstate 12 to the Springfield exit, although it gets a little tricky after that – follow the brown state park signs carefully. Trails include various habitats -- bottomland hardwood forest, riverfront areas, swampy areas, and a small marshy lake. The nature center features various interesting exhibits about Louisiana nature, and a small store.

Birds you might see here:

Summer: Red-shouldered Hawk, White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler Winter:

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Hours of operation: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. All park sites close at 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and days preceding holidays.

Admission? Yes

Trails? Yes – nice trails and boardwalks

Notes:: I once saw a wild pig out there with babies and I’m not sure what would have happened if I’d met her on a trail!

Comments: This park is more remote than most locations for birding around Baton Rouge, so there is less human noise, although the park is popular with campers. There is also a water play area that is very popular with kids during warmer months and produces lots of shouting and laughter.


Whiskey Bay Road/ Sherburne WMA

Click here for map

General Description: The road is gravel and tends to be bumpy even in the best weather -- after a rain it gets especially muddy and you want to be sure to avoid the soft shoulders (I got stuck in the mud once). Sherburne Wildlife Mgt Area starts a little over a mile from the Interstate. You should have a hunting or fishing license or a Wild Louisiana permit to enter Sherburne. Be sure to indicate you're going birding on the Self Clearing Permit as you enter the WMA! You can bird from the road or walk on the ATV trails. Be careful during hunting season! It's 17 miles from I-10 to Hwy 190 up 975. At the northern end of Sherburne is the ranger station, campgrounds, and shooting range. There is also a nature trail. It's well-marked and good for forest birding. You'll find Hooded Warblers, Kentucky Warblers, and Swainson's Warblers here. More Prothonotary Warblers and White-eyed Vireos here than you can shake a stick at.

Click here for Ebird.org list of birds seen at this birding hotspot

Other sites to elaborate on in the future:

Port Hudson State Park (and Port Hudson Cemetery Road)

Cat Island NWR (click here to see pictures and info from a visit August 2010)

Waddill State Wildlife Refuge

Oakley Plantation

Jefferson Island / Lake Peigneur

Louisiana Birding Trails

The best overall place to find places to bird in the state as a whole: Louisiana Birding Trails website.

Birding around Baton Rouge

Nearly 300 species of birds have been found in the Baton Rouge area! Check out the links below for more info.

eBird Bird Observations for areas near Baton Rouge

East Baton Rouge Parish
Ascension Parish
West Baton Rouge Parish
Livingston Parish
Iberville Parish