Heart of Louisiana: Cazan Lake

Located in central Louisiana, Cazan Lake may be one of the better places in the state to watch and photograph nesting birds.
Published: Jul. 3, 2022 at 2:23 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - This may be one of the better places in the state to watch and photograph nesting birds. Located in central Louisiana, Cazan (cah-zan) Lake is a private farm and nature preserve with easy access to popular wading birds.

Once the early morning sun pierces the treetops, you’re likely to find Gary Meyers with his camera, focusing on the nesting birds of Cazan Lake.

“Plenty of birds. And, they’re fairly close. You know, I mean, you get a good zoom lens, you can get some really good shots,” Meyers said.

Meyers sells some of his bird photos and he offers workshops to other amateur photographers. But if you’d rather just observe, these nesting great white egrets put on quite a show

“And people are like, why are they fighting? You know, it’s like, they’re not fighting. They’re getting fed, and smaller chick and they’ll get pushed out of the nest either by accident or, you know, the other siblings will actually peck them and knock ‘em out the nest, so we can get more food for them. You know? So it’s survival of the fittest,” Meyers said.

These birds are on their nests from late winter until midsummer. They’ll stay there until the young ones are big enough to fly away. One of the favorites here is the Pink Roseate Spoonbill. Their chicks seem a little better behaved at mealtime.

“All the locals call ‘em the cajun flamingos. They attract lots and lots of folks and get, and they’re sort of a gateway bird to get people interested in bird watching because they are so beautiful,” said Bill Fontenot, a biologist.

Fontenot is developing a conservation plan for the 1,600-acre PJF Farm at Cazan Lake. It’s adjacent to Chicot State Park in central Louisiana. The land is ecologically quite diverse.

“The more habitat diversity you have, the more plant diversity you have. And then the more plant diversity, the more animal diversity,” Fontenot said.

And the swampy area around Cazan Lake seems to be the perfect place for a rookery that’s been active here for more than 30 years.

“It’s a cypress-tupelo swamp filled with alligators. And that protects the nests from predation by raccoons and other mammals that may want to get in,” Fontenot said.

PJF farm is a crawfish and rice farm. The family-owned enterprise is also focused on ecotourism offering day and annual passes for visitors. You can stay overnight in this modest cabin across the road from the rookery or at a more spacious group lodge.

“Recreation has always been here as well,” said Anita Fontenot with PJF Farm and Lodge.

Anita Fontenot’s parents bought the farm in 1960 and now their family hopes to sell others on spending some time here.

“People are tired of being secluded inside and outdoors is a wonderful way to just enjoy nature and learn more about what nature has to bring to our health and to our life,” Anita Fontenot said.

And as long as these birds are on their nests, there is no shortage of entertainment. It’s a lively and unpredictable and spectacular all-natural display.

For more information on PJF Farm at Cazan Lake and other popular birding sites, click HERE.

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