Alligators are a common species at Black Bayou Lake. However, depending on when you visit, you may never see one. Despite the scary stories that pop up in the media, alligators are generally non-aggressive and prefer to be left alone.
Also known as a golden swamp warbler or more colloquially as a swamp canary – these bright yellow birds can be seen along the nature trail in the bottomland hardwood forest and cypress swamp in the summer. The name "prothonotary" refers to the yellow robes worn by clerks in the Catholic Church.
These are the largest freshwater turtles in North America and are often referred to as the dinosaur turtle because of their appearance. The ridges on its shell and the long spiky tail remind people of an alligator.
The cypress-tupelo swamp is what most people think of when they think Louisiana swamps. The knobby knees of bald cypress sticking out the water and their associated trees like black willow and water locust provide a shady overstory for the water.
Bottomland hardwood forests are a transition between the cypress swamp and the upland hardwoods that don’t tolerate the wetness as well. During our rainy wet season, the ground more closely resembles the wet swamp than a dry forest path.
Tallgrass prairie once covered pockets of NE Louisiana. North of the Visitor Center, we have a small patch of restored prairie. It’s a contrast to the nearby forest and something that is unexpected for most people visiting the refuge.
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When visitors come to the refuge, one of the main spots of interest is the lake. Whether you just want to take in the sites or take home a fish, the lake is the center of the refuge.