America's WETLAND Birding Trails
America's WETLAND Birding Trails on Louisiana's Great Gulf Coast are the final leg of birding trails in states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, linking trails in Texas and Mississippi. Consisting of four distinct trails, nature lovers will be able to view a huge variety of bird species native to Louisiana. The America's WETLAND Birding Trails will help visitors explore some of Louisiana's most productive natural places along the coast and expose them to some of the best birding in the country through the numerous State Parks, State Historic Sites, State Preservation Areas, National Wildlife Refuges, Wildlife Management Areas, and other natural spots throughout the state. In addition to exceptional birds and other wildlife, America's WETLAND Birding Trails also expose visitors to some of the state's unique history and culture.
* Please note, that the information in the trail guides might be outdated due to storm damage that occurred after the guides were published.
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The following information is courtesy of the Louisiana Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism.
The America's Wetland Birding Trail consists of 115 bird watching sites crossing through 22 Louisiana parishes.
Mississippi River Birding Trail
Sparsely populated and heavily cultivated in cotton, corn and soybeans, the Northeast Louisiana Delta has served as one of the last homes for the ivory-billed woodpecker and Louisiana black bear. Agriculture and hardwood timbering fragmented this once-contiguous mosaic of bottomland hardwood and and cypress-tupelo swamp habitats, virtually exterminating both the woodpecker and the bear. The ivory-billed woodpecker may be lost forever, but the Louisiana black bear is making an impressive comeback, thanks to an intensive wildlife conservation program initiated by both federal and state wildlife agencies. To date, hundreds of thousands of acres of abandoned farmland in this region have been purchased and restored to their former forested glory.
The Mississippi River Birding Trail consists of 30 bird watching sites in 13 Louisiana parishes.
Red River Birding Trail
Long storied throughout American history for its role in U.S. "Wild West" culture, the Red River changes character considerably as it enters Louisiana. Red clay bluffs, vast pine forests and pileated woodpeckers replace the rocks, bison and rattlesnakes of the river's upper reaches in the Southern Great Plains. Geologically, the Red River neatly bisects a large "shield" of exposed, high-elevation tertiary outcroppings, which form the entire northwestern quadrant of the state. This tertiary shield supports many of Louisiana's rarest plants. To this day, the Louisiana segment of the Red River Valley is best known for its timber resources, and interest in its mixed-pine forests culminated in the formation of the 600,000-acre Kisatchie National Forest system. Most of the forest's districts lay along the Red River Trail.
The Red River Birding Trail consists of 82 bird watching sites in 18 Louisiana parishes.
Zachary Taylor Parkway Birding Trail
Stretching nearly 150 miles eastward through the "boot" of Southeastern Louisiana, the Zachary Taylor Parkway leg of the America's Wetland Birding Trail encompasses almost every major habitat type native to the state. At its western end, within the Tunica-Biloxi Loop, the trail slogs through the low bottomland hardwoods and cypress-tupelo swamps of the lower Mississippi River floodplain. Further east, the Audubon Loop climbs into the prominent upland hardwood blufflands of the Mississippi River's east bank. This is the only region of the state where the Eastern chipmunk and American ginseng live and grow and represents the southernmost extensions of these two species' North American distribution ranges. Finally, the trail meanders higher up into the dry, 300+ foot pineland ridges near its boundary with Southern Mississippi.
The Zachary Taylor Parkway Birding Trail consists of 27 bird watching sites in 10 Louisiana parishes.
Please note that all trails are drafts, and subject to evaluation and revision.