Although the changing of leaves from verdant greens to vibrant shades of orange, red, and yellow announces autumn’s arrival, there’s much more to look forward to this time of year in Monroe-West Monroe. After all, fall is one of the two peak migration seasons for warblers at Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge, one of Louisiana’s top birding destinations. The refuge is best known for its prothonotary warblers, which you can see nesting in the cypress, sweet gum, and black willow trees along the nature trails early in the season.
Yet that’s not all, of course. Wander through the park and you just might encounter hooded, magnolia, black-throated green, and other warblers, along with black-crested cormorants and a host of ducks and water birds. The best way to see them all is by exploring the bottomland hardwood forests, cypress swamps, and prairies via one of several nature trails. For a quick jaunt, follow the one-mile Nature Trail that features a wooden boardwalk through the wetlands. Longer hikes are best suited for the Edgewater Trail, a seven-mile path that runs along Black Bayou Lake and Bayou DeSiard.
Each trail offers a remarkable opportunity to view the birds and other wildlife, including alligators, deer, bobcats, and coyotes, that call the refuge home. Make sure to pack your hiking shoes, and don’t leave your binoculars or long-lens camera behind.