A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Louisiana: Yellow Rails & Crawfish Tails I 2021

October 28-November 1, 2021 with Dan Lane & Cory Gregory guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Is there a more reliable way to see Yellow Rails? Maybe not! This tour, specializing in seeing these skulky and secretive rails, provided great looks for all of the participants. We even had the opportunity to watch researchers capture and take scientific measurements. Photo by participant Andrew Kenny.

After so little travel in 2020, it was a treat to finally hit the road and get back to what we all love; birding! This short trip through Louisiana was a great way to sample some of the main habitats and, as a result, end up seeing a nice variety of species with a well-rounded triplist. However, there's no denying the importance of one particular species, the Yellow Rail!

Our first day we spent mostly in rice country south of Welsh and, although breezy at times, we ended up enjoying a really fun afternoon riding the rice combine, watching the researchers chase after them without abandon, and even getting to see the fabulous Yellow Rail in the hand! It was a great way to start the trip, Yellow Rail for all!

Our second and third days we spent birding some nearby hotspots, sampling some rather unique habitats. From the saltmarshes near Cameron, the freshwater marshes at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, and the quiet pine forests of Kisatchie National Forest, we added a number of highlights like Seaside and Nelson's sparrow, more Clapper and King rails, as well as a number of pine specialists like Brown-headed Nuthatch, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, and even the sneaky Bachman's Sparrow.

I know Dan and I really enjoy leading this tour with all the fun of the rice fields and rails, and we both sincerely hope you enjoyed it too. It was a short trip, almost too short, but it was great meeting you and showing you a bit of Cajun country!

Until we meet again, best wishes and good birding!


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

A few folks saw these distinctive ducks as we passed by a pond south of Welsh.

SNOW GOOSE (Anser caerulescens)

A handful of these, including some "blue" morphs, flew over as we were leaving the rice fields.

ROSS'S GOOSE (Anser rossii)

This small white goose was mixed in with the previous species as they flew over the fields.


A few of these specklebellies, or "specks", flew over Niblett Road at the start of the tour.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

This small species of dabbler was tallied in some flooded fields near Welsh.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

More than a hundred of these wide-billed dabblers were in a flooded field near the Whooping Cranes.

GADWALL (Mareca strepera)

Like the previous species, this dabbler was fairly common mixed in with the other ducks near Welsh. In fact, their black back-ends were pretty obvious through the scope.

MOTTLED DUCK (GULF COAST) (Anas fulvigula maculosa)

A duo of these were scoped near Cameron alongside some gallinules.


This sleek dabbler was yet another species we tallied in the flooded fields near Welsh.

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

NORTHERN BOBWHITE (Colinus virginianus)

This was a surprise, albeit a quick one. We were approaching Kisatchie NF when one of these quail flushed off the side of the road and flew to the other side. Sadly, only a few lucky folks saw it happen.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

We all got good scope views of this aquatic species near the Limpkin bridge (the one without the Limpkin).

Field Guides Birding Tours
A special treat on this tour was getting to see a couple of rare Whooping Cranes! Once native to Louisiana, this regal crane was extirpated due to hunting and habitat loss, but a reintroduction program has been repopulating them. Photo by participant Andrew Kenny.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

Only seen near Lafayette and in urban settings.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

Not particularly uncommon around the Niblett Road area.

INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)

The SW corner of Louisiana falls within the easternmost part of the US range of this tiny, scaly-looking dove. We found a couple on Niblett Road on our first morning.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

We spotted this uncommon but distinctive dove on Niblett Road and then again the following morning in Sulphur.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Common throughout, tallied daily.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus)

Although this species breeds throughout Louisiana, they certainly don't winter here and so the ones we saw along the Sabine NWR walkway were getting pretty late.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

KING RAIL (Rallus elegans)

We managed to tally this large rail on two of our days; first at the rice fields and then the following day near Cameron where we had fantastic looks as they walked back-and-forth just inside a marsh edge.

CLAPPER RAIL (Rallus crepitans)

The productive saltmarsh near Cameron really provided for us in the Clapper Rail category. We eventually had phenomenal looks as a couple came to the edge of the marsh. Remember, if you have seen Clapper Rails in California, those are now split out and called Ridgeway's Rail.

VIRGINIA RAIL (Rallus limicola)

Our rice field adventure produced a couple of these small, secretive rails. We heard several more the following day at Sabine NWR but those remained hidden. This species will spend the winter in the marshes we visited.

SORA (Porzana carolina)


Field Guides Birding Tours
Guide Dan Lane managed to take a photo of this cuckoo right after it caught something. Although it's hard to identify what the morsel is, it's not hard at all to idenfity the Yellow-billed Cuckoo!

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

This marsh-dweller was seen at two spots. First was at the Sabine NWR walkway and then again near Cameron at the Mottled Duck spot.

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

Our only looks came as we drove by a roadside marsh.

YELLOW RAIL (Coturnicops noveboracensis)

Woo-hoo! Undoubtedly the main target for this short tour, this is such a sought-after and tricky to species to see! Our rice field adventure, including even getting to ride the rice combine (!), was the perfect way to make that happen. As students and researchers darted around, we watched as rails popped up in front of the combine, often showing the bold white trailing edge of the wings. Icing on the cake was getting to watch researchers band and take measurements of a Yellow Rail in the hand!

Gruidae (Cranes)

WHOOPING CRANE (Grus americana)

This was an unexpected surprise! These giant, white cranes were once native to Louisiana but were eventually extirpated by 1950 due to the conversion of marshes to farmland and also unregulated hunting. But then in 2011 a program was established to reintroduce them and their efforts are on-going. We saw a couple of these rare cranes, which were part of that project, near Welsh.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

These black-and-white, spindly shorebirds were seen strolling around some wetlands near Welsh.

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)

We lucked into a flock of these attractive shorebirds loafing along the coastline amongst the gulls and terns.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

This sturdy plover was spotted along the coast in Holly Beach.

SNOWY PLOVER (Charadrius nivosus)

Generally rather rare on this tour, this little sand-ghost was spotted on our return down Holly Beach. Excellent! Luckily, they were hanging with some Piping Plovers as well.

PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus)

This is an uncommon and pale wintering species that prefers the large sand beaches on the coast. We spotted a couple along Holly Beach consorting with the previous species.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

This large and noisy plover was fairly common in most habitats we visited save for the pine forests.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our fun didn't just stop with Yellow Rails though! We searched a variety of habitats for specialties including this Clapper Rail in some saltmarsh near Cameron. Photo by participant Andrew Kenny.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

LONG-BILLED CURLEW (Numenius americanus)

This shorebird species, the largest in North America, sports one of the most impressive bills! We encountered one foraging along the shore at Holly Beach. Because this species spends the vast majority of the year on the wintering grounds, its long bill is well-adapted for feeding in the sand and mud and less so for the grassy meadows that they breed in.

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

This is a distinctive shorebird that we encountered on the rocks near Holly Beach.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

Flocks of these ghostly, sand-running shorebirds were seen chasing (and being chased by) waves along the shore at Holly Beach.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

We managed just a couple of these wintering shorebirds mixed with the Sanderlings at Holly Beach. The browner back color and longer, curved bills gave them away.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

This shorebird species, the smallest in the world, was seen on a couple of our days in a variety of flooded and wet habitats.

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)

There was one peep mixed in with other shorebirds near Holly Beach and it turned out to be this species. They are smaller than Dunlin but bigger than Least Sandpipers, but still sport a curved bill.

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

This is a medium-sized shorebird that winters in southern Louisiana. More often than not, these will be found in freshwater habitats and our sightings did indeed come from rice country (Niblett Road).

WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata)

Always a secretive shorebird and so well camouflaged! Thankfully, they're quite common and so it wasn't too long until our paths crossed with them on our first day.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

This is a sturdy Tringa species that we encountered on our first day out in rice country.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

A smaller, shorter, and slimmer version of the previous species, this Tringa was also spotted on our first day.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the many perks to birding along the boardwalk at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge were the close-up views we enjoyed of a variety of species including this sharp Neotropic Cormorant. Photo by participant Andrew Kenny.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

An abundant gull present mostly along the coast.

FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

This migrant can often be seen along the coast this time of year and sure enough, we spotted a few late migrants mixed in with the Laughing Gulls at Holly Beach. Although similar, these are smaller with smaller bills and more black on the head.

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)

Fairly common along the coast at Holly Beach.

HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)

Although not as common as the previous species, this large gull was present in small numbers at Holly Beach.


A singleton was spotted at Holly Beach. Although unheard of in Louisiana until the 1980s, their numbers have been increasing in North America and it is now fairly common in much of the east.

GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica)

A few of these thick-billed terns were spotted roosting near Holly Beach amongst the other gulls and terns.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

This large tern species, the largest in the world, was fairly common on the shoreline near Holly Beach.

FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)

Just one or two of these guys were seen in Holly Beach on our return drive. We later saw some from our short ferry ride.

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

This is another large and orange-billed species of tern although in a different genus from Caspian. These were fairly common in Holly Beach but slightly outnumbered by the larger Caspians.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)

We had nice scope views of this slender cormorant at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. Some of them were even sporting the sharp, white feathering around the chin patch.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of the many highights as we birded along the sandy beaches near Holly Beach was this gargantuan shorebird, the one-and-only Long-billed Curlew! Photo by guide Dan Lane.

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Our views of this large and widespread cormorant came from the ferry and also along Holly Beach and Peveto Woods.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

This giant is a fantastic and distinctive species that winters in Louisiana. We encountered several soaring flocks on our coastal day; first overhead at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge and then again near Cameron.

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Strictly a coastal species, the only encounters with these were along the beaches on our coastal day.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

LEAST BITTERN (Ixobrychus exilis) [*]

Notoriously hard to see, this tiny heron was heard at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge along the boardwalk.

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

A large, common, and classic heron that we encountered each of our days in a variety of wet habitats.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Like the previous species, this large egret was fairly common throughout our trip and we saw them each day.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

This slender, yellow-footed egret was fairly common in wet areas and we tallied them most days.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Most of these were youngsters which are almost completely white.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

This is a slender heron, formerly known as the Louisiana Heron; it would nice if they changed the name back to that.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

Fairly common in meadows around cattle and also as flyovers. Tallied daily.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A major target for us in the pine forests of central Louisiana is the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Although the woods were quiet on our visit, Jim spotted one at the last minute! Whew! Photo by participant Andrew Kenny.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

A youngster was spied in a canal near the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge boardwalk.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

Fairly common flyovers throughout our trip but also seen a few times in some flooded fields.

WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)

Although most of the time these were flying over and hard to ID, the vast majority of the Plegadis ibis were indeed this species.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

It's always a pleasure to see this fancy and distinctive spoonbill! We tallied it on our first day out by the rice fields.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Tallied on our final afternoon as we were driving back towards Scott.

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Abundant throughout our trip.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

This fish-eating raptor was quite common down near the coast and around Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. We often spotted them atop powerline poles.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)

This was one of our most common raptors and we tallied them daily. The wet fields, marshes, and grasslands were all prime habitat for this "marsh hawk".

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)

The smallest Accipiter species in the US, this tiny hawk was spotted on our first day near the rice fields.

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

Slightly larger than the previous species, this bird-eating raptor was tallied on each of our days in a variety of habitats.

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

This classic and familiar eagle was seen on our first day from Niblett Road.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We had the good fortune to study this distinctive raptor, the Crested Caracara, at close range! Photo by guide Dan Lane.

RED-TAILED HAWK (BOREALIS) (Buteo jamaicensis borealis)

Most of the Red-tailed Hawks, which were fairly common throughout open habitats, belonged to this subspecies. This is the most common and expected subspecies here.

RED-TAILED HAWK (FUERTESI) (Buteo jamaicensis fuertesi)

Just a couple of these were seen on our trip down near the coast. This subspecies ranges from the southwest US, east through Texas, and into Louisiana.

Strigidae (Owls)

GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus)

At first we heard these big owls on our first day but then ended up seeing one at dusk the following evening as we drove to dinner.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

Fairly common around any river, stream, or canal. In fact, we saw many on our drive to Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, maybe even more than 20.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)


This wintering woodpecker was first seen in some small trees along the boardwalk at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge! We found more in the pine woods on our final day.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus)

Although this species wasn't exactly common for us, we did track some down on our first morning around Niblett Road.

RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER (Dryobates borealis)

Whew, just in the nick of time! Many of the reliable colonies of this rare species looked partially destroyed by recent storms and the woods seemed REALLY quiet. It wasn't until we were back to our vans that Jim spotted one for us! Yes! This highly-managed pine specialist has suffered a dramatic shrinking of range due to habitat destruction.

PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus)

It's always fun seeing this huge and awe-inspiring woodpecker down in the southern swamps. We heard and saw one in the Kisatchie National Forest and another along a waterway down near rice country.

NORTHERN FLICKER (YELLOW-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus auratus) [*]

One of these was calling in Kisatchie National Forest but it remained out of view.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway)

We managed to tally this distinctive raptor on two of our days including some along the road at Holly Beach.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our trip tallied a number of Northern Harriers, especially around the flooded fields. This particular one had found an amphibious snack! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

This small falcon was fairly common and was tallied each of our days.

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

A few folks saw one of these falcons in flight down near the rice country on our first day.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens)

Some saw this lingering migrant flycatcher at Peveto Woods down on the coast but that was our only encounter.

EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe)

Fairly common for us, these tail-wagging flycatchers were tallied each day.

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

This beautiful and attention-grabbing flycatcher is always treat to see! We encountered a couple including some along the walkway at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.

WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis)

On our final afternoon, we snagged this rare flycatcher along a highway south of DeRidder. We were also interested in its company, a spiffy Scissor-tailed Flycatcher!


Hanging out with the previous species, this attractive flycatcher was seen along Highway 171 south of DeRidder. It was pretty wild watching them eating the berries of Chinese Tallow!

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)

A few of us saw this sneaky vireo at Peveto Woods on our second day.

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

A black-and-white predator, albeit not a huge or imposing species. We saw these a couple of times including one that was harassing mockingbirds in Sulphur.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)

A common and conspicuous species at many spots on our trip.

Field Guides Birding Tours
It's true. Some flycatchers get folks more excited than others. One good example is the always-fun-to-see Vermilion Flycatcher. Participant Andrew Kenny took this great picture during our walk at the Sabine National Widlife Refuge.

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Fairly common farther north in the pinewoods and the nearby towns.

FISH CROW (Corvus ossifragus)

A few of us heard this species calling from near the hotel.

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

CAROLINA CHICKADEE (Poecile carolinensis)

This is the only chickadee species found in Louisiana and we tallied them each of our days.

TUFTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus bicolor)

It wasn't until our visit to Kisatchie National Forest that we found this small, tufted species.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

A few of these rather plainly-colored swallows were tallied on our day down near the coast but that was the only spot.

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)

Our most common swallow on this trip, these blue-and-white swallows were tallied each day.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

A sleek and smooth-flying swallow species, these fork-tailed aerialists were tallied in rice country and along the coast.

Regulidae (Kinglets)


A tiny songbird with a very high-pitched call, these were seen at Peveto Woods and in Kisatchie National Forest on our final day.

RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula)

A common species in a variety of habitat, these were seen each of our three days. Many times, it was kinglets and gnatcatchers first on the scene as we birded the roadsides.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)

This was a nice northern surprise! One of these was heard (and then seen) in the pine woods of Kisatchie National Forest on our final day.

Field Guides Birding Tours
What a fantastic image of a secretive marsh bird! This Marsh Wren, photographed by participant Andrew Kenny, came out to inspect us briefly at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.


This is a southeastern specialty that's quite tied to the pine habitats. For us, they were common in the Longleaf Pines of Kisatchie National Forest. More than the other eastern nuthatches, these are almost always found in groups or even flocks.

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)

A few folks came across one of these at Peveto Woods down along the coast on our 2nd day.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)

A very common and ubiquitous species in many of the edge habitats on our first and second days.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

Although more often heard than seen, this small plain wren was fairly common in habitats that had dense understory or wooded edges.

SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis)

In many of the grassy and marsh habitats we visited, this small secretive wren was actually fairly common. Seeing them, however, can be a real challenge. We got good views a couple of times including at Amaco Road just north of Cameron.

MARSH WREN (Cistothorus palustris)

The boardwalk at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge was a great spot to actually get to see these secretive marsh-dwellers.

CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

A common wren, these boisterous songsters were heard and/or seen at spots such as Niblett Road and Kisatchie National Forest.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Seen daily.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis) [*]

The meowing call of this mostly-gray mimid was heard a couple of times at Peveto Woods on our second day.

BROWN THRASHER (Toxostoma rufum)

Tallied on our day along the coast and again up in Kisatchie National Forest.

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The Pine Warblers we saw came in a variety of shades ranging from drab to very bright. Here's a fantastic look at a bright Pine Warbler from our time in Kisatchie National Forest. Photo by particpant Andrew Kenny.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Common and widespread, tallied every day.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

Not all that common on this trip. Our only encounter was of a couple flying over the town of Oakdale early in the morning.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Tallied daily, mostly from urban areas.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)

A couple of these were calling near the gas station in Sulphur on our 2nd morning. However, this typically isn't a very common species on this trip.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

BACHMAN'S SPARROW (Peucaea aestivalis)

This is an uncommon resident in the pine forests in Louisiana. However, during the nonbreeding season they become exceedingly secretive and tricky to see. We narrowed down on several, mostly by call note, and eventually got some quick glimpses.

WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

This is a handsome wintering species that we encountered on our first morning on West Niblett Road.

SEASIDE SPARROW (Ammospiza maritima)

This was a target of ours near the town of Cameron and after birding some nearby saltmarsh for a bit, we eventually got some glimpses of this strictly coastal species.

NELSON'S SPARROW (Ammospiza nelsoni)

This was another key target of ours on our day down along the coast. We had fantastic looks when a sharp-looking individual came to the edge of the saltmarsh near Cameron.

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

An abundant and widespread sparrow in the rice fields and other grassy habitats.

LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii)

This is another wintering sparrow species that we tallied on our first morning out near Niblett Road.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We had a picnic lunch at Peveto Woods along the coastline. The birds nearby included this inquisitive Black-throated Green Warbler that came down for great views. Or maybe they wanted our lunch. Photograph by participant Andrew Kenny.

SWAMP SPARROW (Melospiza georgiana)

Quite common in the correct habitat. We had fantastic looks along the boardwalk at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, for example.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)

This denizen of open country and grassy areas was even heard singing a few times along Niblett Road and later on closer to the coast. Although Western Meadowlark is a slim possibility at this season, all the songs we heard were definitely Eastern.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

This lingering migrant popped up in a treetop in Peveto Woods during our post-lunch stroll.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Fairly common in a variety of grassy and wet habitats. Tallied daily.


Seen in small numbers throughout the first and second days in the open country.

COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)

At this season, this species gathers up into huge flocks and we passed by some of these near the rice fields.

BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major)

Our first couple of days put us in range and habitat of this and the following big grackle. In Louisiana, it's fairly easy to tell them apart by their eye color; Boat-taileds have dark eyes, Great-taileds have pale eyes.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

During the rice harvest season, this species gathers into large flocks and can sometimes be seen by the hundreds or thousands foraging out in the open fields. But also, they can hang around your average gas station!

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Leiothlypis celata)

We had a small gathering of warblers at Peveto Woods and this species popped into view a couple of times.

NASHVILLE WARBLER (Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

It was getting pretty late to see this migrant but we found and photographed one along Niblett Road on our first morning.

Field Guides Birding Tours
One of our specific targets in the saltmarshes along the coast was this dapper sparrow, the Nelson's Sparrow. A little work and we were rewarded with very nice views! Photo by participant Andrew Kenny.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

Fairly common in dense vegetation or marshy habitats, this secretive warbler was heard more often than seen. We had several encounters in the first couple of days in rice country.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

It was a nice treat when this small and compact warbler popped into view for us deep in Peveto Woods. Although this species is a widespread breeder in Louisiana, essentially all of them leave and fly farther south during winter.

PALM WARBLER (Setophaga palmarum)

Although not exactly common for us, we did encounter this tail-bobbing warbler a few times including along the beach in Holly Beach.

PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus)

At this season, this species can be very drab and hardly recognizable. Still, we encountered them first along Niblet Road and then again farther north in Kisatchie National Forest.

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)

This wintering warbler wasn't terribly common for us but we did tally it on our second day down along the coast.


We found a couple of these in Peveto Woods and managed to see them nicely over the vans.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

Not a common bird on this itinerary, the only encounter of this Piranga was at Peveto Woods on our 2nd day.

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

A welcome and colorful presence on this tour, these bright red, crested seed-eaters were tallied each day.

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

This migrant was seen twice on tour; first at Niblett Road and then the following day in Peveto Woods.


FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger)

Tallied only on our first day.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A fun aspect of this trip were all the habitats we explored. From pine forests to sandy beaches and rice fields to cypress swamps. These Bald Cypresses looked nice in the late afternoon light. Meanwhile, we were listening to Great Horned Owls starting to hoot. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

NUTRIA (Myocastor coypus) [I]

A couple of folks saw this marsh-dweller from the boardwalk at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)

We were taking the "long" ferry ride when we spied a few of these in the surrounding waters.

NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor)

We were just leaving dinner in Lake Arthur when we caught a couple of these in our headlights. They looked as if they were up to no good!

STRIPED SKUNK (Mephitis mephitis)

This is the most common and expected species of skunk in the area.


WESTERN RIBBON SNAKE (Thamnophis proximus)

This tiny guy writhed across the boardwalk at Sabine NWR for some folks.

AMERICAN ALLIGATOR (Alligator mississippiensis)

We ended up seeing a number of these basking around above water at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.

Totals for the tour: 141 bird taxa and 5 mammal taxa