Seasons of Wildlife

Tri-colored Heron standing at edge of marsh

  • Late Fall/Winter

    Wigeon swimming in marsh habitat

    Late fall cold fronts will bring a push of waterfowl to Big Branch Marsh. The Refuge's marshes and ponds attract 17 species of migratory ducks during the winter to feed, rest, and roost.  The most common waterfowl species that winter in the area are Gadwall, American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, American Coot, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, and Lesser Scaup.

  • Spring and Summer

    American Alligator

    The American alligator begins nesting activities in May and June.  By July, almost all nests are completed and eggs are laid.  The nests are constructed of natural marsh vegetation – grasses and sedges gathered by the female.  In late August and early September the hatchlings break out of the eggs and the nest – sometimes assisted by the female.  They are approximately 9 inches long at hatching.  Male alligators can commonly reach 12 feet in length.  The average length of alligators in Louisiana is about 7 feet.

  • Year Round

    Wood duck courtesy of Bill Lang

    The Wood Duck is a year-round resident of the Refuge. Wood Ducks nest in tree cavities in wooded swamps and woodlands near ponds, streams, and rivers. This species requires old growth timber that provides tree cavities. Since this habitat is rare, we provide nest boxes for Wood Ducks in wetland areas of the Refuge. Courtship and pairs begin to form in autumn and into spring. Nesting begins between mid-January, in the deep South, and early April in the northern part of its range.