The Secret Coast is expansive, with 62 miles of shoreline, bays, bayous, marshes, and barrier islands perfect for bird watching more than 400 native and migratory species. 

Bird watching in Coastal Mississippi

The sandy beaches and barrier islands of Gulf Islands National Seashore allow observations of shorebirds and seabirds, including the Magnificant Frigatebird and Northern Gannet. The Mississippi Coastal Birding Trail helps guide visitors to destinations in six southern counties.

One of the great birding experiences of the Gulf Coast is a spring “fallout,” when northbound birds swarm a patch of woods after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Several sites along the coast, including Ansley Preserve, can host this spectacle, though such events are always weather-dependent and can’t be predicted very far in advance.

Mel White, audubon.org

Where should you start your adventure? 

 

Visit Mississippi Coast Birding Trail to begin mapping out your visit. Some of the most popular sites include the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Book a nature tour through a variety of excursion offerings in Coastal Mississippi or charter a trip to one of the State's barrier islands. Ship Island Excursions (from Biloxi or Gulfport) and Shore Thing Fishing Charters are great options for bird watchers. 


Which species can you expect to see? 

 

Bird watching in Coastal Mississippi

An annotated list is available here

Barrier Islands

Blue-Winged Teal
Common Loon
Double-Crested Cormorant
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Reddish Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Clapper Rail
American Oystercatcher
Black-Bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover
Whimbrel
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling
Dunlin
Least Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Short-Billed Dowitcher
Long-Billed Dowitcher
Spotted Sandpiper
Willet
Laughing Gull
Herring Gull
Least Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
Black Skimmer
Belted Kingfisher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
White-Eyed Vireo
Fish Crow
Purple Martin
Barn Swallow
Brown-Headed Nuthatch
Marsh Wren
Carolina Wren
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Common Yellowthroat
Northern Parula
Seaside Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
Red-Winged Black bird.

Local Marsh

Red-Breasted Merganser
Double-Crested Cormorant
Brown Pelican
Great Egret
Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret
White Ibis
Osprey
Clapper Rail
American Oystercatcher
Black-Bellied Plover
Ruddy Turnstone
Dunlin
Short-Billed Dowitcher
Willet
Laughing Gull
Least Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Skimmer
Marsh Wren
Nelson's Sparrow
Seaside Sparrow
Savanah Sparrow
Red-Winged Blackbird
Black-Crowned Night-Heron
Roseate Spoonbill
Northern Harrier
Barn swallow
Black-Bellied Plover
Royal Tern
Sandwhich Tern
Double-Crested Cormorant
Semipalmated Plover
American White Pelican
Green Heron
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Sanderling
Least Tern


Why is The Secret Coast perfect for bird watchers? 

 

Bird watching in Coastal Mississippi

The most exciting aspect of birdwatching in Coastal Mississippi is the diversity. We've had almost 400 different species of birds documented in Coastal Mississippi.  As they migrate through in the spring and fall, or come here to breed in the summer, or come to the Coast to overwinter, we've always got something neat showing up. We've got a diversity of habitats to support all the birds that specialize in certain types of habitats.  If I want to go out and see one particular bird or kind of bird, I can target that, or if I want to see a lot of different kinds of birds, I can swing through a variety of habitats and see a lot of bird species in a short time. We've got bottomland hardwoods, marshes, beaches, and frequently-burned piney woods (plus other habitats), and each has it's own avifauna.  You can look for "special" birds, different habitats, and more on the Mississippi Coast Birding Trail. Of course, you can link up with a local birder to serve as a guide as well. 

Robert Smith, Coastal Programs Coordinator and Wildlife Mississippi and Photobiologist 

So pack your binoculars and field guides for a unique birding experience along The Secret Coast! 

Special thanks to Chris Walters - Shore Thing Fishing Charters, Robert Smith - Wildlife Mississippi, and Scott Breazeale - Scott Breazeale Photography for photography.