Birdwatching and Spring Festivals

Spring is the perfect time of the year to visit Louisiana’s Coast.  For birdwatchers or festival goers – it’s prime time and the opportunities are limitless.  Your challenge will be where to start and limited by the hours in the day.  If you're adventurous, this blog is for you!

Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana

Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana is located on the convergence of the Mississippi and Central flyways! There are tremendous opportunities at wildlife refuges located along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road as well as eco-tours offered by Grosse Savanne Ecotours. Here, you can glide out onto the marsh in the thick of beautiful lilies and see alligators and birds, which during the spring and early summer, are nesting in trees overhead. Later this spring, the Spring Art Walk will take place 5 -9 p.m. in downtown Lake Charles on April 28. So, after you enjoy nature during the day, you can immerse yourself in the arts including theatrical, visual, literary and musical! For more information on birding, check out Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana.

Vermilion Parish

In Vermilion, birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts should plan on visiting the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area Birding Trail, located at Hwy. 91 S. Gueydan, Louisiana.  There are over two miles of birding and natural trails with kiosks providing information on the species of plants and animals in and around the trail.  For great views, there is also an observation tower, ample parking and a covered pavilion.  After spending the day on the trail, visit “Stir the Pot:  Louisiana Seafood Cookoff and Festival, April 22, 11 am to 5 pm at Palmetto Island State Park in Abbeville.  Admission is $5.00 with great food, crafts and live music by the The Beau Young Band.  On June 3rd, it’s the Daylily Festival and Garden Show in Magdalen Square, Downtown Abbeville.  Plants, speakers, and garden accessories will be featured under the historic oaks.

Iberia Parish

Birdwatching opportunities abound in Iberia Parish.  Birding areas of interest include Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, Jungle Gardens/Avery Island, New Iberia City Park, Jefferson Island Rip’s Rookery and Spanish Lake, Iberia Parish Birding Trail . The new Tabasco factory tour on the island includes a nature conservancy exhibit featuring local wildlife and Jungle Gardens offers guided birding tours by appointment. Lake Martin is another beautiful habitat for wading birds, waterfowl and alligators, just outside of Iberia Parish on Hwy. 31 between Parks and Breaux Bridge. Birding guides are available.

Celebrate James Lee Burke and other writers at the Dave Robicheaux’ Hometown Literary Festival with literary panels, a book fair, an academic symposium, reader’s response theater, music, local cuisine, Dave Robicheaux tours and a 5K run. Lanexang Village in Coteau honors the Lao New Year every Easter weekend with a three-day festival that includes live music, a beauty pageant, parades, sand castle building, kids activities, and several vendors selling clothes, jewelry, music and food from Southeast Asia. Cycle your way through Acadiana with Cycle Zydeco, a casual touring bike ride with food, live music and attractions. If you prefer driving, Cruisin Cajun Country Cruise In takes you on a classic and muscle car cruise to experience the area's hottest attractions, award-winning Main Street historic district, food and live music, while spectators enjoy free car shows and entertainment.

Cajun Coast

The Cajun Coast is the southernmost gateway to the Atchafalaya Swamp Basin, the largest overflow swamp in the US and part of the Mississippi Flyway.  You’ll want to print the America’s Wetland’s Birding Guide for St. Mary Parish and follow the birding trail to spot our avian friends as they return home.  This self-guided tour will take you to Stephensville’s Four Mile Bayou Road, Brownell Tower, Cotten Road in Patterson, the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s walking trail and the Charenton Levee Road.  Cajun Coast Birding

Festivals include the Road to 3rd Street Songwriter’s Conference, Retreat and Festival, April 5-9, 2017 in Morgan City that will highlight over 100 songwriting artists.  April 21-23rd highlights two unique events– the Bayou Teche Wooden Boat Show and the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival.  Wooden Boats of all styles, classic and modern will be on display and owners love sharing stories of their adventures – either when building it, showing it off or riding in it!  The bear festival celebrates one of St. Mary’s most interesting inhabitants.  Educational exhibits on the black bear, boat tours into the refuge and traditional festival activities, including music and great food, are part of the weekend’s activities.

Houma - Terrebonne

Houma’s Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place to spend a Spring day. Begin your day with a one mile walk through moss-draped cypress trees, palmettos and wild Louisiana irises. The end of the trail opens to a spread of swamp that is a great place to see bald eagles, roseate spoonbills and great blue herons.

Every Spring, artists and art-lovers flock to historic Southdown Plantation for the Southdown Marketplace. Masters at fine art, wood crafting, furniture making, and more showcase their work on the beautiful grounds of the antebellum estate. With over 300 vendor booths, Cajun food and activities for the whole family, it is a great way to spend a Spring day. Come join the fun April 8, 2017 from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Visit Southdown to learn more.

Lafourche - Louisiana's Cajun Bayou

Louisiana's Cajun Bayou area sees thousands of migratory birds at this time of year with nearly 500 species of birds.  Wood and waterfowl are especially prone to flock to the area because of the coastal marshes and bayou areas along with shorebirds along the coast. See plovers, sandpipers, Great and Snowy egrets, Great Blue, Green and Tricolored herons, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills and many varieties of ducks. Flycatchers and songbirds are also frequent visitors. The majestic bald eagle makes its home in the bayou habitat, with Louisiana now one of the top population centers for bald eagles. The Lockport Elevated Boardwalk provides a comfortable birding spot. The boardwalk runs 440 feet through wetlands for a safe and dry look into the natural scenery of the Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou wetlands. Cajun Bayou Birding

Festivals in Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou in Lafourche Parish are filled with great Cajun food, live music, and cultural flair. The Lockport Food Festival, April 21-23 kicks off the big events for the spring and features endless options of Cajun dishes and the best swamp pop music in the south. The Bateaux De Bois Festival, April 29, highlights the art and craft of traditional boat building, an alligator display, pirogue race, storytellers, and museum tours. The Thibodaux Fireman’s Fair rounds out the big festivals in the spring, May 4-7. This event is the largest volunteer fire department fair in the country and features rides, live entertainment, parade, and Cajun food. Band headliners include Candlebox and Dylan Scott. Cajun Bayou Festivals

Jefferson Parish

Jefferson Parish has so many festivals and special events this Spring, you’ll need to plan your stay strategically.  For birdwatchers, head on down to Grand Isle for the Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration: Friday, April 21, 2017 to Sunday, April 23, 2017.  Grand Isle is one of the first stops as birds return from migration.  Walking tours, boat tours, kayak tours, socials and more. Grand Isle Bird Fest

Other events this Spring in Jefferson include:  Barataria Preserve’s Spring in the Swamp: Friday-Sunday, April 14-16 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m, City of Gretna’s Food Truck Fest: Saturday, April 15, 2017, from 5-9pm, Old Metairie Crawfish Festival & Cookoff: Saturday, April 22, 2017 12:00pm-8:00pm, Treasure Chest Casino's Crawfish Boil on the Lake: Friday, April 21, 2017 6:30pm - 9:30pm, Deanie's Pinch A Palooza Festival & Crawfish Eating Contest: Sunday, April 23, 2017 11:00 AM - 9:30 PM, the Zurich Classic: April 24 – 30,  the Grand Isle Paddle Palooza Kayak Tournament: April 29, 2017, the Crawfish Cook-off:, Saturday, May 6, 2017 11am-7pm, the 5th Annual Great Huey P. Long Bridge Run: Saturday, May 13, 2017,  Swollfest 2017 Fishing Rodeo: June 7-10 and Kenner's Hispanic Summer Fest: June 10-11, 2017.  Jefferson Parish Events

St. Bernard 

The third annual St. Bernard Bird Festival will be held May 5-6, 2017 at Los Islenos Museum Complex, 1201 Bayou Road, St. Bernard.  Local birders will guide attendees through trails in Eastern St. Bernard and the local art guild and woodcarvers will present works of art. For more information on times, visit St. Bernard

St. Tammany Parish - Northshore

St. Tammany Parish has an impressive list of activities this spring.  Spring for Art, April 8ththe Covington Antiques and Uniques Festival, April 22-23, the Abita Springs Busker Festival, April 23 and Old Towne Slidell Spring Street Fair, April 29-30, 2017.  Visit St Tammany for complete list.

Birdwatchers will be especially interested in Bird Fest at the Northlake Nature Center, April 7-8th.  Workshops and birding trips highlight the day’s activities.  Enjoy a leisurely walk along the Northlake Nature Center preserve.

So, whatever your passion - be it birdwatching, gardening, art, seafood cookoffs, literature, 5 K's, cycling, driving tours, wooden boats, wildlife watching, arts & crafts, music fests, fishing, golfing and eating - on Louisiana's Coast, indulge your passion on Louisiana's Coast!