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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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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 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?

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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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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.

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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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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

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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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/19/2020 at 7:23 AM, Connor Cochrane said:

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.

If you need Pectoral Sandpiper and Pacific Golden-Plover, come to Hayward Regional Shoreline in like September or the first half of October. And check Frank's Dump at high tide.

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  • 3 weeks later...

my nemesis birds for my state include American Bittern, Painted Bunting, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Black-throated Blue-warbler, American Oystercatcher, Cape May Warbler, Peregrine Falcon, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sedge Wren and many more ?

For the ABA area, my biggest needs are (??) White-breasted Nuthatch, White-throated Sparrow, Pine Siskin, Common Merganser, Dark-eyed Junco, Common Raven, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Field Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Common Goldeneye,  Warbling Vireo and more, and basically every bird west of the Mississippi River.... (Great-tailed Grackle would be a lifer, you get the point ?)

If I had to choose one bird to see above all the rest, I'd pick Greater Sage-grouse.

And, yes, I haven't seen a Song Sparrow in 9 years... here's hoping I see one this winter!

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