Sunday, January 01, 2006

Most Wanted Birds

I posted a list below of the life birds I have seen within the past year. Now as one year ends and the next begins, I would like to look ahead to a new year of birding and a new set of life birds. Here are the ten birds I would most like to see within the next year.

Now the following are all birds that one might reasonably hope to see within my usual birding haunts - in other words, within the mid-Atlantic region. Some may even be found in the D.C. area. There are plenty of others that I would like to see but that would require travel over longer distances. I felt that including birds from farther afield would require more than a top ten list!

1. Cerulean Warbler

The emblem for my blog ought to be a bird I have actually seen, so finding this species will be a goal of my spring migration birding.

2. Horned Lark

This species competes with the cerulean warbler for the title of my "nemesis bird," the name birders give to species that they fail to see even when others see them in the same place at the same time. I have been on trips where a horned lark was seen by other birders on the same day, and I have chased down reports of larks. In no case have I seen one.

3. Cape May Warbler

This striking species was named for one of the best birding sites on the east coast; it gained the name when the first specimen was collected there by Alexander Wilson, who did his birding with a firearm.

4. Connecticut Warbler

The Connecticut warbler seems to be a common inhabitant of birders' lists of nemesis birds. The reason is clear: like all Oporornis warblers, this species skulks in the underbrush and is difficult to see without careful looking. The mourning warbler, also missing from my life list, would also be a welcome sighting.

5. Sora

Rails as a whole form a large gap in my life list. I have now heard a king rail, but I have not so much as heard, let alone seen, any of the others. I list the sora here because it seems to be the most likely for me to see, but it stands for rail sightings in general.

6. Bobolink

Bobolinks are a grassland species, and therefore are rare in the areas where I bird most often. Still, they do appear, and one day soon I hope to see them. Their tinkling calls are quite intriguing.

7. Rough-legged Hawk

In my area, rough-legged hawks are winter migrants, and appear mainly in open areas for short periods at a time.

8. Common Redpoll

I hope to track down a member of this species sometime this winter. They are closely related to goldfinches and siskins, but have red instead of yellow as their distinctive color.

9. Razorbill

I have few chances to bird at the shore in the winter, but when I do, I frequently hear of razorbill sightings around the same time and place. One day soon a razorbill and I will be in the same place at the same time, and I will see it.

10. Broad-winged Hawk

The broad-winged hawk is the one common eastern raptor that I have yet to see. Maybe this will be the year for it.