Along the coast are the barrier islands and headland beaches, many of which are accessible only by boat. The beaches, mudflats, and adjacent gulf and bay waters form a ribbon of habitats that are extremely important to many species of birds that pass through on their long migratory journey, including shorebirds such as threatened piping plovers, Wilson’s and snowy plovers, willets, sanderlings, and red knots. These areas are also important to colonial water birds including brown pelicans, laughing gulls, least and Forster’s terns, and black skimmers. These habitats are not only used as staging and refueling areas for migrants but they are also important for many species that breed in Barataria-Terrebonne.

Common birds that nest along barrier islands include royal terns, Caspian terns, least terns, black-necked stilts, roseate spoonbills, great egrets, snowy egrets, tricolored herons, and black skimmers.