Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bulletin 291 - 100 Birds to see before You Die - #2

I discovered this book "100 Birds to See Before you Die" by 2 Brits David Chandler and Dominic Couzens about 7 years ago while browsing in a bookstore on vacation. The sub title is "The Ultimate Wish List for Birders Everywhere". It sort of peaked my interest as a 'bucket list' of the rarest and most unusual birds in the world, according to the 2 authors.

It has the smallest (Bee Hummingbird)  and largest (Ostrich) birds, some of the most beautiful (Birds of Paradise) and some quite ugly (Shoebill) and strange (Hoatzin). There are birds on all the continents as well as Arctic and Antarctic regions. 

There are also a number of island endemics. In the south Pacific, there are entries for Hawaii (1), New Caledonia (2) , New Guinea (3), Sulawesi (1), Mindanao (1), and New Zealand (2). The Galapagos has 1 entry.  Madagascar has 3. The Caribbean is well represented with Cuba (1), Hispaniola (2) and Montserrat (1).

There are about 240 families of birds, so obviously they are not all represented on this list. There are 3 each of Birds-of-Paradise, Gulls and Terns, Cotingas, and Tyrant Flycatchers. There are several unique birds that are sole members of their family. These are the Hoatzin, Kagu, Oilbird, Crab Plover, Ibisbill, Wallcreeper and Shoebill, For those of us in North America, not a single New World Warbler is on the list.

Each entry has a full page photograph and facing page article of what makes the bird rare, unusual or interesting to warrant its inclusion.

This is the second group of 10 birds. The first installment is here.

Number 100 is the Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea). This is a small (14") tern that breeds in the Arctic around the world and winters in the Antarctic along the pack ice. They are a long lived bird 20-30 years or more and in their travels from pole to pole and back each year, they may travel 3/4 million miles. Because they spend the summer in the Arctic and winter in the Antarctic, they have perpetual daylight except during the migration. Thus these birds have more daylight in their annual cycle than any other animal species. They migrate through the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They don't appear in the Gulf of Mexico, so it is not a bird you will see in Texas. They are typical of tern plumage with a white body and a black cap on the head. The bill is described as 'blood red' and is the ID mark. This bird was photographed in Anchorage Alaska.

Arctic Tern
Number 92 is the Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta). This is a grouse of the high arctic across all regions, North America and Eurasia. They are adapted for the cold with feathered legs and feet. They have 3 molts during the year to camouflage the birds on the ground. From all white in the snow in winter, to brown mottled in the summer and half and half in spring as snow is leaving. This bird was photographed in Alaska.

Rock Ptarmigan - male molting

Number 82 is the Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata). This is one of 3 puffin species and is a resident of the north Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. It is black bodies with a white face, red bill and yellow tufts behind the eyes in breeding plumage. This bird was photographed in Alaska.

Tufted Puffin
Number 75 is the Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus). They seek out white water rivers in the northern hemisphere to breed....Alaska, Labrador, Greenland, Iceland and Siberia. The male has a gray head with several white patches. this bird was photographed in Alaska.

Harlequin Duck - male

Number 67 is the Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus). It is similar the common Cedar Waxwing that we see across North America. It breeds further north in the taiga forests of North America and Eurasia. It winters further south but they are very nomadic and don't always show up in the same place each year, thus it is hard to find.I did not see this bird in Alaska, despite looking on the tour. But I did find this bird in a flock wintering in Ely Minnesota by the Canadian border.

Bohemian Waxwing
Number 65 is the Broad-billed Tody (Todus subulatus). It is one of 5 species of Todies in the Greater Antilles. There are 2 endemic to Hispaniola. This 4.5" bird looks like a cross between a kingfisher and a hummingbird. It has a green back, pale gray underparts and red throat. The bill is red as well. I photographed this one in Dominican Republic.

Broad-billed Tody
Number 55 is the Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus). At 24 inches in length, it is the worlds largest falcon.Its range is the circumpolar in the tundra and taiga. Some move south in winter if food is scarce. They range in color from white to dark. The authors state the white one is the best to see, but all count. To see a white one, head to Arctic Greenland in summer or Iceland in the winter. brrrr. I photographed this bird on the nest about 50 miles outside Nome Alaska.

Number 47 is the Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiaca). This large (26") white owl is a neighbor of the Gyrfalcon. Adults are pure white with yellow eyes. The juveniles have dark streaking on the white. I photographed a juvenile in Duluth MN in winter and this adult in Alaska.

Snowy Owl
Number 22 is the I'iwi (Vestiaria coccinea). This 6" bird is the iconic bird of Hawaii with red body, black wings and semicircular red bill. It feeds on nectar mostly of the Ohia tree. It is present on all the major islands and can be seen by most visitors if they take the time to go to native forest above 4000 feet elevation.

Number 12 is the Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno). This amazing bird was sacred to the native Americans in Central America. The male has long tail streamers. It is considered by many birders to be the most beautiful bird in the world and certainly up with the birds-of-paradise is beauty.

Resplendent Quetzal - male

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

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