Animal life

The broad range of habitat ranging from barrier islands inland to bottomland swamps provides the diverse habitat needed to sustain the high level of biodiversity found in the Lousiana coastal wetlands.  Approximately 735 species of birds, finfish, amphibians, shellfish, reptiles, and mammals utilize this habitat.  The following list is a brief example of some of the more common species found in the wetland region.  

Grey Tree Frog:  very vocal frog making up to 700 calls an hour, also has a slight chameleon ability to slowly change colors between grey and green
grey tree frog
Green Tree Frog:  only found near surface waters
green tree frog
Southern Leopard Frog:  common inhabitant along open water
southern leopard frog
Gulf Coast Toad:  commonly found in hot and humid areas
 gulf coast toad
Marbled Salamander:  small and highly lethargic
marbled salamander
Mole Salamander:  burrowing salamander that spends almost its entire life underground, except when mating
mole salamander
Small Mouthed Salamander
small mouthed salamander


Green-winged teal:  broad and opportunistic feeder, dabbling duck found in shallow waters and mudflats
gw teal
Gadwall:  very common winter inhabitant, gadwalls have expanded their range more than any other duck this century
Shoveler:  Sieves invertebrates and seeds through its beak, will up-end to feed.  Populations have been increasing the past 50 years
Blue-winged teal:  First duck to arrive and last to leave.  Dabbles primarily on submerged plants, algae, and invertebrates
bw teal
Pintail:  Not as common in the Louisiana coastal wetlands, numbers have been declining nationally, mainly feeds on seeds on dry land
Wigeon:  found throughout the saline, brackish, and fresh marshes feeds on seeds and grasses
Scaup:  One of the most common inhabitants of the coastal wetlands, dives for seeds and submerged vegetation.  Prefers open water habitat of either salty or fresh
Mallard:  Most common duck in the US.  Most use the Mississippi flyway and are therefore major inhabitants of the coastal wetlands.  Dabble to feed on seeds, roots, tubers
Wading Birds
Common Egret:  Migrates south from the Minnesota region.  Diet consists of fish, frogs, crustaceans, snakes.  Nests in colonies with other egret species
Snowy Egret:  Nearly hunted to extinction for plumages, has since recovered.  Feed on crustaceans, amphibians, insects
snowy egret
Roseate Spoonbill:  Louisisana success story - At one time only 30 Roseate Spoonbills were alive due to heavy hunting.  Populations have stabilized and returned to healthy numbers.
r spoonbill
Wood Stork:  All of the wading birds in the Louisiana coastal wetlands are protected now, but in the past these birds were hunted heavily for their plumage for hats.  The wood stork is the only wading birds remaining on the threatened list
wood stork
White Ibis: Highly sociable bird who nests, feeds, and roosts in large flocks.  Primarily eats crabs and crawfish
Great Blue Heron:  Feeds almost exclusively on fish but will also eat insects, crustaceans, and snakes.  Nests in large colonies of the same species.  
great blue heron
Green Heron:  Considerably smaller and better fliers than other herons.  Feeds on fish, insects, and invertebrates.  
green heron
Anhinga:  Dives to feed on primarily fish and some insects, crawfish, and amphibian larvae.  Nest in tree colonies which can be shared with heron species
Nesting Birds
Barn Swallow:  Amazingly maneurverable flyer.  Feed primarily on flying insects.  Build nests out of mud and vegetative matter
barn swallow
Tree Swallow:  Migrate in large flocks in which they remain in all year.  Feeds on insects
tree swallow
Kingfisher:  Build tunnel-like nests deep into mud banks.  Feed primarily on fish
Bachman's Warbler:  The rarest native songbird in the US, possibly extinct.  Last seen in 1975 in Georgia.  Habitat loss in Cuba is primary reason for decline, historically was found in the Lousiana coastal wetlands
Orchard Oriole
orchard oriole
Yellow Breasted Cuckoo
yellow breasted cuckoo
Purple Gallinule:  Prefers open freshwater habitat with floating vegetation.  Feeds on frogs, insects, and submerged vegetation
purple gallinule
Black Skimmer:  This bird nests on barrier islands but due to habitat destruction its numbers are declining rapidly.  Numerous restoration projects aimed to protect and restore barrier island habitat have the potential and the goal to protect this species and other similar species.
black skimmer

Osprey:  Most common raptor in the coastal wetlands.  Feeds on fish.
Bald Eagle
bald eagle
Peregrine Falcon

Nutria:  Exotic pest species from South America.  The nutria eats the roots of marsh plants and can cause massive damage to large sections of wetland
Muskrat:  High reproductive rates needed to offset high mortality.  Rapid population growth can lead to eat outs.  Primarily east the roots of marsh vegetation.  Found in salt and fresh marshes
Marsh Rabbit:  Capable of swimming to avoid predators
marsh rabbit

Black Drum:  largest member of the drum family, uses the wetlands for spawning
black drum
Blue Crab:  Use high salinity regions of the marsh for spawning.  All life stages utilize the marshes.
blue crab
Red Drum:  
red drum
Brown Shrimp:  Larvae stages utilize the marshes for protection and food, adults move to deep water.
brown shrimp
Gulf Menhaden:  
gulf menhaden
White Shrimp
white shrimp
Southern Flounder:  Spawn offshore but young migrate into marshes to feed on crustaceans,
southern flounder
Spotted Sea Trout:  Spawns in wetlands
spotted sea trout

Alligator:  Common inhabitat of the freshwater marshes.  Top-level predator feeding on fish, mammals, and reptiles.  Can create important habitat known as alligator holes during dry months
Copperhead:  Poisonous member of pit viper family.  Feeds primarily on frogs
Water Moccasin
water moccasin
Diamond-backed Water Snake:  Commonly found in open water habitats
db water snake
Green Water Snake
green water snake
Yellow Bellied Water Snake:  Feeds primarily on amphibians
yellow bellied water snake
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
eastern hog snake
Garter Snake:  Primarily feeds on earthworms and leeches.  May secrete a saliva poisonous to amphibians.
garter snake
Speckled King Snake:  Feeds on rodents
speckled king snake
Broadhead Skink:  Highly territorial, heads turn bright orange during mating season
broadhead skink
Five-line Skink:  Burrowing skink found in upland habitats
five lined skink
Green Anole:  Very common throughout the marsh, feeds on insects
green anole
Snapping Turtle:  Large, can reach weights of over 40 pounds.  Known to lie still on the bottom and lure fish with a worm shaped tongue.  
snapping turtle
Spiny Soft-shelled Turtle:  
spiny soft shelled turtle
Stinkpot Turtle:  Prefers murky water with plenty of plant growth.  
stinkpot turtle

Wetland Formation
Animal Life
Plant Life
Ecosystem Function
Human Settlement
Human Interactions