Types of Birds You'll See Around Lake Charles

Great location and lots of variety

Thanks to its location along major migratory routes, there are so many different species of birds spotted in Southwest Louisiana that you never know what you’ll see next. Here are the most common types to look for – and when and where to find them.

Neotropical Migrants

Hooded Warbler

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’re passing through Southwest Louisiana on their way to and from those areas twice a year. 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.

Shoreline Birds

Willet Bird

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.

Wading Birds

Heron taking flight

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.


Ducks in Flight | SWLA Tours, Inc.

A larger category that collectively includes more than 100 species of swimming birds, including shoreline birds and wading birds, waterfowl like ducks, geese, swans and other seabirds are more plentiful during the fall and winter, usually in fields and marshes.

Raptors, Hawks & Ospreys

Osprey by Vicki Sensat
Photo by Vicki Sensat

These large birds of prey appear mostly in the fall and winter as well, 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 in size from medium to large, some ospreys can reach up to 24” long with a wingspan stretching nearly 6 feet!

But Wait, There’s More!

Check out our roundup of the top birding spots in Southwest Louisiana for more details about what species you’re likely to see at each location.

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