Birds

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While Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge was established for migratory waterfowl, they are not the only birds that inhabit the refuge.


Waterfowl
Historically supporting over 500,000 ducks and 150,000 geese at peak population, the refuge serves as one of the major wintering grounds for waterfowl in the Mississippi Flyway, and serves as host to large concentrations of northern pintails and greater white-fronted geese, two species of particular concern in the Mississippi flyway. Other common wintering species include blue-winged and green-winged teal, gadwall, American widgeon, northern shoveler, mallard, ring-necked duck, and snow geese.

Lacassine Refuge is in the heart of rice farming country, which supports large numbers of geese. The refuge's largest concentration of white-fronted, snow, Ross, and Canada geese are found on its farm units. Small numbers of white-fronted and Canada geese use the Lacassine Pool. The refuge provides nesting habitat for wood and mottled ducks, black-bellied and fulvous whistling-ducks, and blue-winged teal.

Wading Birds

Lacassine Refuge provides nesting and feeding areas for large numbers of wading and marsh birds. Historically, Black Grove and Blue Grove, located in the southern portion of Lacassine Pool, and Unit C have been the main rookery sites and some are still used. White-faced and white ibis; great, cattle, and snowy egrets; great blue, Louisiana, and little blue herons; anhingas; roseate spoonbills; and neotropical cormorants are a few of the more common species found on the refuge.

The refuge has a sizable breeding population of purple gallinules, common moorhens, bitterns, and rails. Dense marsh vegetation makes surveying difficult. Surveys for gallinules and moorhens are conducted in Lacassine Pool each August using airboat and consisting of six transects totaling 14.2 miles. All gallinules and moorhens within 150 feet of the transects are recorded.

Lacassine Refuge was designated a Globally Important Birding Area in 1998. The refuge provides habitat for globally significant numbers of white-faced ibis and waterfowl, as well as nationally significant numbers of roseate spoonbills.

Shorebirds, Gulls, Terns, and Allied Species

The region's strategic location is enhanced by a diversity of habitat types favored by shorebirds, including beaches, marsh, estuarine tidal flats, rice fields, and crawfish ponds. The refuge provides resting and feeding habitat mainly for spring migrating shorebirds. However, tremendous numbers of shorebirds are attracted each fall to rice fields and crawfish ponds. Surveys are conducted during fall and spring migration. Commonly present shorebirds include killdeer, long and short-billed dowitchers, greater and lesser yellowlegs, black-bellied plovers, black-necked stilts, snipe, and sandpipers. If conditions are favorable, Forster's terns, killdeers, and black-necked stilts nest on the refuge.

Raptors

Raptors of Lacassine Refuge include many species of hawks, owls, and vultures. Year-round residents include the black and turkey vulture; osprey; sharp-shinned, red-shouldered, and Cooper's hawks; American kestrel; and barn , great horned, and barred owls. Additionally, the golden eagle, a state-listed rare species, has been routinely recorded from Lacassine Refuge and vicinity.