Waking up to fog so heavy that it was dripping from the trees, I worried what the day would bring. After pouring a cup of coffee, I meandered over to my neighbor's house in the dark, listening intently for anything. No screech-owls, no Barred Owls, no Great Horned Owls. Uh-oh. This could be a slow morning.

Toddy cheerfully bounced out of his house ready to go. This was my 4th year joining Toddy Guidry and Marc Broussard for the Lafayette CBC - we were bonded in our first year together by a Tropical Parula, and the rest is history. We could tell the fog was lifting and at 6:29am, the first cardinal broke into song. This was quickly followed by a cacophony of Carolina Wrens and Northern Mockingbirds, both of which proudly announce their winter territory holdings to start their day. Toddy, Marc, and I were soon joined by Elaine Bourque, our neighbor who loves hummingbirds and stuffing her guests' bellies with amazing treats from her Cajun kitchen.

In the lingering fog, we searched hard for birds.

We were getting lucky, finding goodies like Wilson's Warbler, American Woodcock, and this Barred Owl.

Toddy's, Elaine's, and my yard are collectively becoming known as the "Milton trifecta", due to our luck of attracting hummingbirds. My little lot barely compares to the wonderful habitat Toddy and Elaine's yards provide. Little do people know that Marc, across the Vermilion River near Maurice, also hosts one or more hummingbirds each winter. Today, we tallied 13 individuals of 4 species, possibly 5 species if any of the assumed Rufous turn out to be Allen's. In addition to Rufous/Allen's (photo below), we found Black-chinned Hummingbird (photo below), Calliope Hummingbird (photo below), and Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Toddy struck gold when he found this first-year male Western Tanager:

And then he found a lingering Dickcissel, which should be way to our south by now:
To find some rare birds, it sometimes helps to play a screech-owl call. All kinds of woodland birds come in to investigate, like curious Hermit Thrushes, Orange-crowned Warblers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.
We also kept one eye to the sky and saw this majestic adult Bald Eagle, a first for this section of the Lafayette CBC. Grown men acting like excited school boys is best done in the wild, away from the judging eyes of civilization.

Apparently, this female American Kestrel is adapting well to Cajun cuisine. We need to give her Elaine's gumbo recipe.

We ended the day with a respectable 92 species, probably the highest count we have tallied in this section. All is well that ends well. A great day with great companions.

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