Fischer Wildlife Sanctuary
Set amid a landscape of braided streams, the Fischer Wildlife Sanctuary preserves 86.5 acres of natural, free-flowing floodplain river system. This regularly inundated bottomland hardwood forest is part of the larger Honey Island Swamp. Located in the Pearl River Basin and St. Tammany Parish, the Sanctuary is bounded to the west by Magnolia Forest Subdivision and to the east by Morgan River, part of Louisiana’s Wild and Scenic River system. The elevation gradient of this site supports a diverse forested wetland dominated by various oaks and sweetgum in the higher areas, and bald cypress and water tupelo stands in the lower, wetter areas. A few magnificent, virgin bald cypress trees can be found and younger cypress trees are numerous. The Sanctuary is also home to a rare and delicate jewel of the swamp—the green fly orchid.
Swamp loving animals such as river otters, American alligator, alligator snapping turtles, and a rich variety of freshwater mussels thrive here. This wetland provides prime nesting habitat for a host of birds, including Wood Duck (which are extremely abundant), Red-shouldered Hawk, Mississippi Kite, Barred Owl, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Pileated Woodpecker, Summer Tanager, Northern Parula, and Prothonotary Warbler. Swallow-tailed Kites nest near, roost on, and feed over the Sanctuary. During migration, the forest provides important stopover habitat for Neotropical migratory birds such as Tennessee Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler.
The Fischer Wildlife Sanctuary is one contribution to the protected and conserved areas of the Pearl River Basin. The Louisiana-owned Pearl River Wildlife Management Area to the east conserves 35,031 acres and the federally-owned Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge protects 36,000 acres to the north. Also to the north, Mississippi’s Old River Wildlife Management Area conserves another 15,408 acres. The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana owns the 586 acre White Kitchen Preserve to the south. The Sanctuary’s proximity to other vast protected state and federal areas ensures that large tracts of contiguous forested wetlands are preserved. In this way, area sensitive species are provided with suitable expanses of habitat, and corridors are maintained that allow for dispersal of species with large home ranges. Threats to the site include invasive exotics: Chinese tallow, Chinese privet, and Japanese climbing fern.
The Fischer Wildlife Sanctuary was Orleans Audubon’s first sanctuary. It was created on December 29, 1997, with a generous land donation from the Fischer family. We are grateful to Frank “Phil” Fischer, Jr., Georgia Fischer Talbot, and Kathleen Macheca Bohn for making this Sanctuary possible.
The Fischer Wildlife Sanctuary is a site partner of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. It is also part of the Pearl River Important Bird Area. While there is no public access to this site, we conduct bird surveys and occasionally offer field trips.