In September, 2006 I posted a list to this blog of ten American land birds I wanted to see. One of these still eludes me: the Black-throated Blue Warbler. I’m not surprised, given that most of my birding in the last five years has been in Louisiana or points west, and this is a bird of the eastern United States, only occasionally drifting as far east as Louisiana.
The others, and the dates of my first sitings of each:
Vermilion Flycatcher: August 15, 2008
Yellow-headed Blackbird: May 17, 2008
Blue-throated Hummingbird: August 16, 2008
Bridled Titmouse: August 13, 2008
Green Jay: November 23, 2008
Scott’s Oriole: August 11, 2010
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher: October 21, 2007
Broad-billed Hummingbird: August 13, 2008
Mountain Bluebird: August 17, 2010
So now it’s time to pick ten additional birds to put on my “must see” list. This time, I’m not limiting myself to land birds, in part because I hope to do more birding on the water.
Later this month I’ll be taking my first pelagic, or ocean-going, birding trip into the Gulf of Mexico. Bridled Tern is a species of tern not often seen even as close as the coast of Louisiana, but there’s a chance we’ll see it, and I figure I’ll include at least one long-shot on my target list.
This desert species is most easily found in southeastern Arizona and in parts of far west Texas. It’s on my list mostly because it’s such a striking-looking bird. Formerly known as the Harlequin quail for its markings, it’s hard to locate anywhere without a certain degree of luck.
This is a relatively common winter species in south Louisiana, but for some reason, my birding during that season seldoms takes me to its habitat. It’s probably the easiest bird of the ten on this list to find, certainly the only one I’m likely to find in the state, and yet it’s eluded me for a long time.
Within the United States, this is a species of south Texas only (though it’s more common and widespread in Mexico. I’ve been to what is supposed to be the best location for it (Salineno) twice, and missed seeing it both times. Will the third time – whenever that is – be the charm? I hope so.
This large woodpecker is a desert species found primarily in Arizona and New Mexico, often nesting in saguaro cactuses. Despite three trips to southern Arizona, I’ve not spent enough time in the desert areas to find this bird.
This small bird breeds sparingly along the Gulf coast, probably including Louisiana. It’s seen semi-regularly in spring, but often only for a few days at a time, most often at Grand Isle, LA. It’s one of those birds I’ll just have to be in the right place, at the right time, to see.
This, by contrast, is a bird of the northern US and Canada, though at higher elevations it moves south. It’s highly visible and is well known as the “campground robber” for its boldness in stealing food from campgrounds quite close to people. Wild birds often learn to feed from the hand readily.
This species of chickadee has the most limited range in the United States of any bird in its family – essentially, a single mountain range in southeast Arizona and a neighboring range in southwest New Mexico. Despite the limited range, it’s the chickadee I’m most likely to see next; the other two species of the United States which I haven’t seen are the Boreal Chickadee, found mostly in the far New England states and in the nothernmost parts of the midwest states like Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the Gray-headed Chickadee, found only in northern Alaska.
This bird, also a bird of the southern Arizona mountains, is one I should be able to get if I just get up higher in the mountains. Birding there with non-birder friends in tow in the past, I have been a little hampered in getting to all the good areas; I’ve already decided my next trip there will be with birders only (or those willing to endure birder conditions). This is probably the most distinctive member of the warbler family in the United States.
Of the five tanagers which occur in the United States, this is the only one I haven’t yet seen. Only a handful, if any, are reported each year, mostly in Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona, or (more rarely) in the nearby Huachuca or Chiricahua Mountains. When it’s around, though, it’s often present for a few months, and frequently seen coming to feeders, so it’s not out of the question to see it. I missed one by two days back in 2008.
So those are the new “top ten” target birds. I’ll try to report back at least once a year with updates and with new lists as these go away.