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AlexHenry

Your Most Wanted Birds

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What would be your most wanted ABA-area birds that you have never seen?

Personally, I would consider Gray-headed Chickadee to be the Holy Grail, most difficult to see bird. Not too flashy, but so remote and so rare.

McKay's Bunting would be another crazy one.

Gyrfalcon would be amazing, I tried for them a couple times back when I lived in Massachusetts but never got lucky. 

Montezuma Quail is beautiful and is one of my personal nemesis birds - I can't tell you how much time I have spent walking the grassy oak savannas of the foothills of the Santa Ritas and Huachucas praying for a glimpse, with utter futility.

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Posted (edited)

Do Gray Headed Chickadees even exist in the ABA-area anymore??

Probably my most wanted bird that's kinda reasonable is Gyrfalcon, they are truly awesome birds. Hopefully next year I'll be able to chase one.

Edited by Birding Boy

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12 minutes ago, Birding Boy said:

Do Gray Headed Chickadees even exist in the ABA-area anymore??

Absolutely - they have been reported as recently as 2018. But their numbers are small, spread over a vast area that is so ridiculously remote that they are almost impossible to find.

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22 minutes ago, Seattle said:

I'd love to go down to Texas and see the whooping cranes.

Out of likes, but that's one I have never seen either, and would be beautiful!

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Right now, all I want is a darn Purple Finch. I’ve been looking for one for years and haven’t found one.

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5 hours ago, Trevor L. said:

Right now, all I want is a darn Purple Finch. I’ve been looking for one for years and haven’t found one.

Where are you located?  Maybe someone here can help you find one.

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Spruce Grouse is my personal nemesis. 
 

But in terms of most wanted, I’d say Ross’s and Ivory Gulls, White-eared Hummingbird, Spotted Owl, Short-tailed Albatross, Gray-headed Chickadee, Flame-colored Tanager, and White-tailed Eagle. Just off the top of my head. 

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13 hours ago, Trevor L. said:

Right now, all I want is a darn Purple Finch. I’ve been looking for one for years and haven’t found one.

Yes!

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Aplomado Falcon, Gyrfalcon, Burrowing Owl, Great Gray Owl, Snowy Owl Black-capped Vireo, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, blackburnian said:

Spruce Grouse is my personal nemesis. 
 

But in terms of most wanted, I’d say Ross’s and Ivory Gulls, White-eared Hummingbird, Spotted Owl, Short-tailed Albatross, Gray-headed Chickadee, Flame-colored Tanager, and White-tailed Eagle. Just off the top of my head. 

They call Spruce Grouse "the Fool Hen" because they aren't afraid of people - and therefore, they don't flush, making them tougher to find than many other gallinaceous birds. But if you do find them, you can often get pretty close. In fact, when I was a kid and perhaps more impulsive and less concerned about disturbing birds, I once touched a wild male Spruce Grouse. He acted a little startled, walked about three feet farther away, and continued strutting his stuff to the nearby female. Now that I look back, I probably shouldn't have disturbed the birds like that, but they hardly reacted, and I was young after all.

Almost every time I have seen Spruce Grouse has been on the Spruce Bog Boardwalk at Algonquin Park in Ontario. Algonquin Park in general is a great spot for birding, I highly recommend it if you ever get a chance. Not quite far enough north for true boreal forest, but there are extensive stands of balsam fir and black spruce, and a little bit of white and red spruce mixed in among the classic Great Lakes mixed hardwood forest of eastern hemlock, white pine, red pine, sugar maple, yellow birch, and a few beech trees. This mix of habitats is great for breeding songbirds, with Red-eyed Vireos and Great Crested Flycatcher in the same area as Blue-headed Vireos and Olive-sided Flycatchers, Least Flycatchers near Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, all sorts of breeding warblers, and a few boreal species including Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, Canada Jay and Black-backed Woodpecker. White-winged Crossbills are also possible. Mizzy Lake Trail - especially the portion along Wolf Howl Pond and West Rose Lake - is perhaps the best spot in the park for breeding birds in early to mid June. But the mosquitoes are horrible, so be warned. Not like how everyone complains when there's a few mosquitoes around, like if you aren't wearing bug spray, you will have a dozen or more mosquitoes simultaneously attacking each limb, so many that it feels like water is dripping down your legs.

Other spots I'd recommend is researching the NEK in Vermont (North East Kingdom) and Baxter State Park in Maine. I tried for them in Michigan when I lived there, at "the slab" on Vermillion Road near Whitefish Point, but never got lucky. Not sure if you'll have a chance to get to any of these areas. I'm sure Minnesota has lots of good spots but I've never been there. I gotta get up there sometime for winter owling.

 

White-eared Hummingbird has eluded me as well despite several visits to the feeding stations at Beatty Guest Ranch, Santa Rita Lodge, Ash Canyon B&B (too expensive, $10 while Beatty's is only $5, but there are often Lucifer there and sometimes Plain-capped Starthroat) during monsoon season in July and August. White-eared Hummingbird would be so beautiful to see! I need to get down to the Chiricahuas some time - I've only been once for one night - but they are just so FAR from Phoenix, even very far from Tucson. There were several WEHU in the Chiricahuas this past summer while I was living in Phoenix, but it was just too far, I never made it and now I regret that because who knows when I'll get another chance?

Edited by AlexHenry

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2 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

They call Spruce Grouse "the Fool Hen" because they aren't afraid of people - and therefore, they don't flush, making them tougher to find than many other gallinaceous birds. But if you do find them, you can often get pretty close. In fact, when I was a kid and perhaps more impulsive and less concerned about disturbing birds, I once touched a wild male Spruce Grouse. He acted a little startled, walked about three feet farther away, and continued strutting his stuff to the nearby female. Now that I look back, I probably shouldn't have disturbed the birds like that, but they hardly reacted, and I was young after all.

Almost every time I have seen Spruce Grouse has been on the Spruce Bog Boardwalk at Algonquin Park in Ontario. Algonquin Park in general is a great spot for birding, I highly recommend it if you ever get a chance. Not quite far enough north for true boreal forest, but there are extensive stands of balsam fir and black spruce, and a little bit of white and red spruce mixed in among the classic Great Lakes mixed hardwood forest of eastern hemlock, white pine, red pine, sugar maple, yellow birch, and a few beech trees. This mix of habitats is great for breeding songbirds, with Red-eyed Vireos and Great Crested Flycatcher in the same area as Blue-headed Vireos and Olive-sided Flycatchers, Least Flycatchers near Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, all sorts of breeding warblers, and a few boreal species including Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, Canada Jay and Black-backed Woodpecker. White-winged Crossbills are also possible. Mizzy Lake Trail - especially the portion along Wolf Howl Pond and West Rose Lake - is perhaps the best spot in the park for breeding birds in early to mid June. But the mosquitoes are horrible, so be warned. Not like how everyone complains when there's a few mosquitoes around, like if you aren't wearing bug spray, you will have a dozen or more mosquitoes simultaneously attacking each limb, so many that it feels like water is dripping down your legs.

Other spots I'd recommend is researching the NEK in Vermont (North East Kingdom) and Baxter State Park in Maine. I tried for them in Michigan when I lived there, at "the slab" on Vermillion Road near Whitefish Point, but never got lucky. Not sure if you'll have a chance to get to any of these areas. I'm sure Minnesota has lots of good spots but I've never been there. I gotta get up there sometime for winter owling.

 

White-eared Hummingbird has eluded me as well despite several visits to the feeding stations at Beatty Guest Ranch, Santa Rita Lodge, Ash Canyon B&B (too expensive, $10 while Beatty's is only $5, but there are often Lucifer there and sometimes Plain-capped Starthroat) during monsoon season in July and August. White-eared Hummingbird would be so beautiful to see! I need to get down to the Chiricahuas some time - I've only been once for one night - but they are just so FAR from Phoenix, even very far from Tucson. There were several WEHU in the Chiricahuas this past summer while I was living in Phoenix, but it was just too far, I never made it and now I regret that because who knows when I'll get another chance?

I’ll be at Moose Bog and Baxter State Park in May looking. I’ve been to both before. 

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On 3/9/2020 at 12:40 PM, Seattle said:

Where are you located?  Maybe someone here can help you find one.

East-central Missouri, near Lake Saint Louis.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, blackburnian said:

I’ll be at Moose Bog and Baxter State Park in May looking. I’ve been to both before. 

Good luck!

I'm jealous - I'm sure it will be great birding with or without Spruce Grouse, but I hope you get lucky! Early morning hikes up to higher elevations on Mt. Katahdin can be amazing - the ethereal songs of Bicknell's Thrushes and the thin high pitched notes of Blackpoll Warblers cutting through the silent fog. I even saw a Fisher up on the Knife's Edge once! I never managed to find nesting Pipits in the alpine tundra though.

Edited by AlexHenry

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Don't forget to use your ears when searching for them. Also, while they're most often on the ground, they spend a decent amount of time in trees a few feet off the ground. Especially if there is a stand of tamarack (aka larch), check the lower branches of tamaracks because they like the soft needles and they'll just hang out in there.

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My Nemesis is Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Some birds I really need for the US are Veery and American Tree Sparrow, pretty hard to get out here in California. Some birds I could get easier in California for the US would be Pectoral Sandpiper, Pac Golden Plover, Mountain Plover and Pine Grosbeak. Some fairly easy birds I need for California are Black-vented Shearwater, Pygmy-owl, and Solitary Sandpiper.

Some birds I would like to see are: the rest of the longspurs, Great Gray Owl, More Pelagic Species, and Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpiper.

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Well, the list of birds I'd love to see is loooooong, but as far as birds in my state that occur regularly that I've missed out on: Whooping Cranes (missed them by A DAY. I went to a spot in the morning someone had seen them at the evening before, and they were gone. So sad.), Purple Finch, Cerulean Warbler (really there is a whole mess of warblers, but that's the main one), Peregrine Falcon, Swallow-tailed Kite, and Dickcissel. Those last two are going to be a main goal for this summer.

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Well what do you know? I was driving yesterday between two birding sites. Bird over the road, wondered what it was, it banked, and showed that classic Swallow-tailed Kite silhouette. No mistaking it. Got super excited, slowed down, pulled over, grabbed the camera, got out of the car, and. . .he was gone. Drove around for a while trying to find him again, but never did.

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