Birds, birds, and more birds! Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge is an excellent place to see many varieties of birds. Much of the land is specifically managed to promote suitable habitat for many types of migratory birds. Duck Lake, which is found on the wildlife refuge, is seasonally drained to support the growth of moist soil plants that feed the waterfowl in the winter. These plants help support tens of thousands of ducks and mallards that spend their winters at Catahoula. One of the key plants found at Catahoula is the chufa, which the refuge helps manage production of by controlling the water levels of the lakes that help compose Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge.
One of the best ways to get out and enjoy the refuge is by taking a stroll on the 9-mile wildlife drive that begins near the refuge headquarters off of Highway 84. The wildlife drive takes you over a levy that overlooks Duck Lake Impoundment, giving you a great vantage point to see wildlife on the lake. Continuing on the wildlife drive will have you wedged between Duck Lake and Cowpen Bayou, both of which are chock-full of waterfowl. Along the drive there is an observation tower that provides visitors with a great opportunity to view some of the 219 species of birds that have been observed on the refuge. A short hiking trail can also be accessed from the wildlife drive if you need to get out and stretch your legs a little.
There are two boat ramps on wildlife drive for those who want to try to experience the wildlife from their boat. Only boats with motors of 10 horsepower or less are allowed on the headquarters unit waters (Muddy Bayou, Duck Lake, Willow Lake, and Cowpen Bayou). These waters can only be accessed by boat from March 1 through October 31. If you’re coming for the birds, winter is the best time to visit Catahoula!