Wildlife & Habitat

Wintering waterfowl

Although Northern pintails, mallards, wood ducks, and green-winged teal are the dominant species, blue-winged teal, northern shovelers, gadwall and American wigeon are also common during the fall and winter months. Large numbers of snow and white-fronted geese winter on the refuge. During the spring and summer months, a variety of migratory songbirds utilize the bayous, scattered forested tracts, and shallow marsh habitat. Numerous native species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and insects are common residents of the refuge. The Louisiana black bear and bald eagle are both threatened species that could potentially be observed on the refuge.

  • Wintering Waterfowl

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    Wintering Waterfowl

    Grand Cote NWR is located in the Mississippi Flyway, which is a critically important region for migrating waterfowl in North America as well as southern breeding populations of wood ducks. Infrastructure to provide intensive and highly productive management of moist soil, cooperative farming and Grand Cote’s geographical location in the Mississippi flyway combine to attract thousands of mallards, pintail, teal, gadwall and wood ducks during the winter. Prior to refuge establishment, the land was intensively farmed, and a series of man-made levees, irrigation ditches, pumps, and water control structures were constructed to facilitate farming. Most of these features still occur on the Refuge and are currently used to manage water levels within impoundments for waterfowl and shorebirds.

  • White-tailed Deer

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    White-tailed deer

    White-tailed deer are a common year-round resident on Grand Cote NWR. Popular with hunters and wildlife viewers alike, deer can be seen all over the refuge. Deer are habitat generalists, and can find plentiful food on and around the refuge. In forests, deer eat herbaceous plants, woody plants, acorns, and fruit. They will also venture into nearby agricultural fields for soybeans and other crops.

    Today, with natural predators mostly gone, hunting is essential to maintain healthy populations of deer and keep them from doing damage to the forest. When deer overpopulate, they are more susceptible to diseases and parasites. They can also harm the forest by eating plant material so that few trees or shrubs can regenerate.

    Today, deer populations on the refuge are closely monitored. Refuge staff collect age, sex, and size data from harvested deer during hunting season and conduct browse surveys during the spring to monitor what deer are eating. The refuge also works closely with Louisiana department of Wildlife and Fisheries for professional consultations and management plans.

  • Wading and Marsh Birds

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    Wading and Marsh Birds

    Wading birds are abundant in the refuge’s waterfowl impoundments, canals, and bayous throughout the year. Species regularly observed include green herons, cattle egrets, great egrets, little blue herons, great blue herons, yellow and black-crowned night herons, anhingas, white ibis, glossy ibis, wood storks, and tricolor herons.

  • Bottomland Hardwood Forests

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    Bottomland Hardwood Forests

    Bottomland hardwoods are forests that are composed of hardwood tree species such as oak, elm, and hickory that thrive in lowland habitats, typically along river systems. These forests are highly diverse in species and very productive. Hardwood forests provide great quality habitat for white-tailed deer, waterfowl, wading birds, and forest songbirds. The Refuge consists of a mix of habitat types primarily resulting from the natural sump topography, including mature bottomland hardwood forests, reforested areas, cropland habitats, moist soil habitats, and semi-permanent water (aquatic) habitats.