BirdFest 2018

The Great Louisiana BirdFest


The Great Louisiana BirdFest is an annual event of the Northlake Nature Center. It is held each year in the spring when many species are migrating north through Louisiana from Mexico and South America. (See for a birding checklist.) Our location in southern Louisiana makes this an excellent time of year for birding. The weather is typically warm but not yet hot and the trees are usually leafing out, but still thin enough for improved visibility.

Pick Your Passion

BirdFest trips will visit varied habitat including swamps, wetlands, pine savanna, and hardwoods of southeast Louisiana.

BirdFest includes birding trips, some Southern food and hospitality, and a few workshops. Check the details below and join us for good birding and a wonderful time. Before and after our scheduled trips, take a leisurely walk through the Northlake Nature Center preserve. There are seven miles of trails through our 400 acres, marked for self-guided tours. Habitats and features at the Nature Center site include a grove of giant southern magnolias, Cypress/gum swamp, and a beaver pond on Bayou Castine. You may see wood ducks, migrant warblers, and if you're lucky, our flock of over twenty wild turkeys! So, plan to take this pleasant walk.  

Proceeds from all BirdFest trips go to support the mission of the Northlake Nature Center.

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Great Louisiana Bird Fest 2018

Birding in South Louisiana

No other coast in the entire world is as busy with birds as the coast of Louisiana. Each year, nearly the entire eastern population and several species of the western population of migratory neo-tropical songbirds and waterfowl migrate through Louisiana’s coast in what is one of the world's greatest spectacles. On some days in April, more than a million birds will reach Louisiana's coast. Spring migrants arrive on Louisiana’s coast after a long gulf crossing and rely on the coastal wetlands to restore depleted energy reserves and to provide food and cover.

The effects of weather on migration

In past years, approximately 125 to 150 species have been seen during BirdFest. The numbers are largely dependent on the weather. As is true in any Gulf Coast birding location, numbers and species of birds is highly dependent on the weather, with the best birding following a strong cold front moving through the birding site. This may create conditions for a “fallout” where trans-gulf migrants, battling wind and rain, go to ground soon after they hit land. These “fallouts” offer the opportunity to see a high number of species and during these events hundreds of individuals of a single bird species may be packed into very small areas where they can be easily observed. Although fallouts are not very common, we have encountered them in a couple of spectacular years during BirdFest and there is always the possibility that this year could be one. Even in fair weather when some trans-gulf migrants may continue inland many migrants will stop in south Louisiana. Our resident and breeding bird populations are greatly augmented by migrants; Gray Catbird and Indigo Bunting are two examples, often arriving in flocks.

Birds that can be seen on most of the BirdFest trips

The following birds occur commonly in southeast Louisiana and can be expected on almost any trip and so may not be mentioned in individual trips. Note that resident and breeding bird populations may be outnumbered by migrants for any given species.

Wintering Birds: Tree Swallow, Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, and White-throated Sparrow. Resident and Breeding Birds: Great-blue Heron, Great and Snowy Egret; Black and Turkey Vulture; Laughing Gull, Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpecker; Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American and Fish Crow; Purple Martin, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Parula, Pine Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, and Common Grackle.

Possible Migrants: raptors, vireos, warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, orioles, thrushes, and buntings.

What’s new?

Every year since its inception, The Great Louisiana BirdFest has incorporated at least one new trip. 2018 is no exception. We will return to perennial favorite sites; add a new site in the longleaf pine savanna habitats; and visit a beautiful location for the BirdFest Social so that our visitors can combine good birding with a taste of Louisiana and enjoy the lovely surroundings.


All trips are “Self Drive.” Maps and driving instructions will be provided in advance and you will drive yourself to the meeting place for the start of the trip. Please make sure you provide us with accurate contact information so we can get this information to you.

Our schedule this year includes new and innovative trips. If you visited last year and missed some of our unique birding sites, please register early so you won't be disappointed! Follow the links below for detailed descriptions of this year's trips and events and then register for those that you wish to attend.

  • Reservations will be filled in the order in which they were received. Many of the trips and events have limited seating or space.
  • Your registration and payment must be received by April 1 if we must send confirmation by mail. Registrations received after April 1 will be confirmed by email or during phone order.
  • All participants will meet at the field trip locations. Directions will be provided for each registered participant. All trips are self-drive.
  • The prices listed below are for non-members. If you would like to become a member and receive discounted prices, click here to buy your membership.
  • If the trip that you are interested in is full, email to be put on the waiting list.

Register to attend the Great Louisiana BirdFest

Register by Mail
or Register by our Secure Online Registration Form Below

Click the member / non-member links above to register for appropriate field trip.
If you would like to be a member and receive discounted prices, Buy Your Membership Here

Friday, April 13, 2018
6:15 am - 12:00 pm noon 1. Manchac Swamp / Joyce WMA: Details & Registration $45.00
5:30 pm - 9:00 pm 3. Big Branch by Night & RCW's: Details & Registration $25.00

Saturday April 14, 2018
7:00 am to 12:00 noon 4. Money Hill Plantation: Details & Registration $30.00
7:00 am - 11:00 am 5. Honey Island Swamp: Details & Registration $25.00
2:00 pm - 6:00 pm 6. Canoe Big Branch Marsh (you paddle): Details & Registration $45.00
2:00 pm - 6:00 pm 7. Canoe Big Branch Marsh (with paddler): Details & Registration $65.00

Sunday April 15, 2018
7:00 am to 12:00 noon 8. Wilderness Park/ Audubon Species Survival Center: Details & Registration $50.00
7:00 am - 12:00 pm noon 9.Bogue Chitto River Reserve Habitats: Details & Registration $25.00
5:00 pm - 7:30 pm 10.BirdFest Social: Details & Registration $45.00

Monday April 16, 2018
9:00 am - 3:00 pm 2. Photo Workshop: Details & Registration $50.00

Registration Fee and Sales tax
If you attend any of the field trips, there is a $5 registration fee for each trip. $5.00

Cancellation and Refund Policy:

The Northlake Nature Center reserves the right to cancel any event for any reason. For cancellations before March 23, 2018 we will notify registered participants as soon as possible, and a refund will be issued. For trip cancellations after March 23, 2018 (caused by weather or road conditions for example) refunds will not be issued.

Registrant cancellations may be made and refunds granted per the following policies:

  • Registrant cancellations by March 9, 2018 – full refund
  • Registrant cancellations by March 23, 2018 – 50% refund
  • Registrant cancellations after March 23, 2018 – will not be refunded
  • A $5 administrative fee will be deducted from all cancellations


There are several hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area. For complete information, please contact The St. Tammany Parish Tourist and Convention Commission -- 1-800-634-9443, or