Hotspots Near You

202. Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Arthur, Louisiana

A southwestern Louisiana refuge, home of huge flocks of waterfowl, whistling-ducks, and herons.
By John Phillips, Jr. | Published: 12/22/2014

The most accessible portion of Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge is the 16,000-acre impoundment known locally as “the Pool.” It’s a wonderful place to find ducks, geese, hawks, egrets, herons, and alligators, and best of all, it’s quiet and relaxing. The wildlife drive takes visitors about six miles through the protected marsh. Lacassine is a remote refuge. On most days, you may see only a few people traveling the raised levee roads.

A few hundred thousand ducks winter on the refuge. Lacassine hosted more than 100,000 Northern Pintails in winter in the 1980s, but the numbers today are only about 18,000, reflecting a downward trend for the species across North America. In addition to pintails, expect to see teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Mottled Duck, Canvasback, and Redhead, among others.

Peak season starts in December and extends well into February. It’s thrilling to see and hear large flocks of geese rising up and descending in the fields and to find thousands of ducks spread out over the Pool. On the east side, a raised platform overlooks the miles of marsh; a stationary scope is located here. The tranquility, many species of birds, and lack of human occupation bring me back to the refuge every winter. — John Phillips, Jr.

John Phillips, Jr. is a wildlife photographer. He wrote about Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary, High Island, Texas, Hotspot Near You No. 153, in February 2013.

202. Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Arthur, Louisiana

Directions

Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge protects 35,000 acres of wetlands in southwestern Louisiana. From east- or westbound I-10, exit onto Hwy. 101 and head south. Go eight miles to Hwy. 14. Turn left, go 4.5 miles, and turn right onto Illinois Plant Rd. Continue five miles to the entrance and the refuge’s wildlife drive.

Downloadable Files

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
30°00’36.1″N 92°54’41.0″W

Habitat

Grasslands, marsh, lakes, cypress trees, brush, rice fields.

Terrain

Flat. Rock roadways serve as levees around pool.

Birds

Great and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue, Little Blue, Green, and Tricolored Herons, Roseate Spoonbill, White, Glossy, and White-faced Ibis, Black- and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Pied-billed Grebe, Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, American Coot, Greater White-fronted, Canada, Cackling, Snow, and Ross’s Geese, Blue- and Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Mottled Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Canvasback, Redhead, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Harrier, Crested Caracara, White-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Bald Eagle, Merlin, Belted Kingfisher, Loggerhead Shrike, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Meadowlark. Rare: Reddish Egret, Cinnamon Teal.

When to go

Year-round. Best from December to February.

Amenities

Ramped observation deck, trails. Information booth and portable toilet at beginning of drive. Checklist for southwestern Louisiana refuges (PDF).

Access

National wildlife refuge. No fees. Open from sunrise to dusk. Stay on refuge roads; side roads belong to a private company.

Tips

If you hike off the Pool roads, use bug spray; mosquitoes aren’t a problem on roads. Visit after 3 p.m., when birds start feeding and the sun is setting.

For more info

Lacassine NWR, (337) 774-5923
Louisiana Ornithological Society
Gulf Coast Bird Club

Sites nearby

Cameron Prairie NWR
35 miles west of Lacassine. About 10,000 acres of marshes and coastal prairies. Abundant waterfowl. Great for butterflies and dragonflies.

Sabine NWR
A vast 125,000-acre refuge southwest of Lake Charles. More than 300 species. King Rail, Roseate Spoonbill, Merlin.

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