Thanks to its location along major migratory routes, so many species of birds are spotted in Southwest Louisiana along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road that it's always a surprise what you’ll see next. Here are the most common types to look for – and when and where to find them. More exotic bird species are commonly signed throughout the area, too, so be on the lookout for something rare. 

Neotropical Migrants

These birds breed in Canada and the U.S. during the summer but spend their winters in Mexico, Central America, South America, or the Caribbean islands, meaning they pass through Southwest Louisiana on their way to and from those areas twice a year during Spring and Fall migratory periods. Warblers, vireos, and flycatchers are the most common species of neotropical migrants you’ll see in the area, and they’re usually found in our coastal woodlands.

Hooded Warbler
Hooded Warbler

Shoreline Birds

True to their name, shoreline birds are typically seen along the water’s edge around the area’s beaches, lakes, and rivers. Seagulls, ducks, pelicans, and geese are some of the most common shoreline birds, but you can also spot plovers, willets, terns, and more throughout the Lake Charles area year-round. 

Willet Bird
Willet Bird


A larger category that collectively includes more than 100 species of swimming birds, waterfowl, including ducks, geese, and swans, primarily live in aquatic environments like the fields and marshes of Southwest Louisiana and are known for their migration patterns. These birds are mostly seen in fall, winter, and early spring. 

Ducks in Flight | SWLA Tours, Inc.
Mallard Ducks

Wading Birds

Also considered shoreline birds, “waders” are known for their long legs that make navigating through shallow waters easier. Storks are among the most recognizable wading birds, but the marshes of Southwest Louisiana are great places to spot ibises, spoonbills, herons and egrets all year long.

Roseate Spoonbill | Jamie Beauxis Photography
Roseate Spoonbill | Jamie Beauxis Photography

Raptors, Hawks & Ospreys

These large birds of prey appear mostly in the fall and winter, either sitting on or soaring high above power lines and poles in search of their next meal. Red-tailed hawks can be observed throughout the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in trees lining the canal banks during the winter, with barn owls, great horned owls, and black and turkey vultures spotted all year round. While hawks range from medium to large, some ospreys can reach up to 24” long with a wingspan stretching nearly 6 feet!


Osprey by Vicki Sensat
Osprey | Image by Vicki Sensat

Recent Bird Sightings

Southwest Louisiana’s diverse ecosystem of prairies, forested wetlands, marshes, and coastal areas provide perfect habitats for more than 400 different species of birds in and around Lake Charles. Here are the best places to spot them!