Featured Species

The refuge has some of the largest seabird colonies in the nation and has been identified as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy. 

Breton NWR provides breeding habitat for colonies of wading birds and seabirds and wintering habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl. Twenty-three species of seabirds and shorebirds frequently use the refuge, and thirteen species nest on the islands. The most abundant nesters are brown pelicans, laughing gulls, and royal, Caspian, and sandwich terns. The refuge provides important wintering habitat for the federally threatened piping plover. Over 10,000 brown pelicans have been recorded nesting on the refuge. Waterfowl winter near the refuge islands and use adjacent shallows, marshes, and sounds for feeding and shelter.  

The Chandeleur Islands are one of only four Gulf of Mexico wintering grounds for the redhead duck which feed on seagrass beds. Other waterfowl species, such as bufflehead, scaup, gadwall, and blue-winged teal, use the refuge as a migration stopover. Aerial surveys have tallied thousands of ducks, primarily redheads and scaups. 

Several species of shorebirds can be found on the islands, including the Wilson's plover, American oystercatcher, snowy plover, dowicher, dunlin, sanderlings, red knot, least and western sandpiper, and piping plover. The eastern seaboard population of piping plovers is threatened; the refuge provides critical wintering grounds for this small shorebird.

Grey, white and black bird on sand in the foreground

Size: 18 cm (7.25 in) in length. Color: Breeding season: Pale brown above, lighter below; black band across forehead; bill orange with black tip; legs orange; white rump. Male: Complete or incomplete black band encircles the body at the breast. Female: Paler head band; incomplete breast band....

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