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Friday, December 18, 2009

Best Birds of the Decade

Hard to believe that I've lived in Pennsylvania now for half a decade! In response to a thread on the PABIRDS email list, I've compiled my Top 10 PA Birds of the 2000s. I suppose it's time to start getting more serious about my PA bird list, since as an expat Westerner I've let a lot of good state birds slide by without a chase. At any rate, here's my Top 10 PA birds for the past decade:

1. Fork-tailed Flycatcher (made up for the one that spent a month at my local patch in Texas a couple months after I moved up here)
2. Yellow-billed Loon (missed more than half a dozen times growing up out in Oregon)
3. Long-billed Murrelet (10 minutes from the time I saw the email to the time I saw the bird at Nockamixon. Sweet!)
4. American Oystercatcher (fun to find this one at Nockamixon)
5. Allen's Hummingbird
6. Barnacle Goose
7. Lazuli Bunting (one of only a few Western birds I chased in PA, 'cuz it's so beautiful)
8. White-winged Crossbills
9. Snowy Owl ('cuz I got to show it to my kids our first week in the state)
10. Swallow-tailed Kite ('cuz I got to show it to my sister visiting from Utah)

As far as ABA birds go, the past decade was a lot of fun, and I added 62 new ones to my ABA list. My favorites:

1) American Flamingo (6 Jul 2000--TX with my global listing friend the late John Gee)
2) Blue Mockingbird (1 May 2001--TX)
3) Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush (24 Jul 2004--TX)
4) Lawrence's Goldfinch (11 Apr 2005--CA, unforgettable enchanting area up Mines Rd out of Livermore)
5) Atlantic Puffin (17 Aug 2005--ME, Eastern Egg Rock thanks to Steve Kress and my time at Hog Island Audubon Camp)
6) White-eared Hummingbird (10 Sep 2005--AZ, playing hookie from an Audubon meeting with Sheri Williamson)
7) Ivory Gull (26 Feb 2007--NY, got to show it to my oldest daughter playing hookie from school)
8) Western Reef-Heron (6 Aug 2007--NY, after three failed chases in three states, got to see it with all three of my kids on the fourth try)
9) Whooper Swan (18 Feb 2009--ID, fun chase after spending a weekend with relatives in Idaho)
10) Kittlitz's Murrelet (22 Jun 2009--AK, my first trip to Alaska, a ten day wildlife cruise with my sweetie)

Globally, only six short trips outside of the ABA birding area, but some highlights:

1) Oahu Amakihi (2009--my first Hawaiian Honeycreeper--now to get to the other islands and see some more!)
2) Totoweh (2008--Mopan Mayan for Barred Antshrike--love the onomatopoetic name and my time doing ethnoornithology in Belize)
3) Hawfinch (2009--fun to find this one while playing with my kids in the forest in Germany)
4) Bristle-thighed Curlew (2009--don't know when I'll see this in the ABA area, but great to see in Hawaii)
5) White Stork (2009--a pair on a light pole over a freeway in Rotterdam on an urban birding conference field trip)
6) Black-and-White Owl (2008--a great night in Belize)
7) Black Hawk-Eagle (2006--fun day trip to the Tuxtla Mountains in Veracruz)
8) Waco (2006--Ch'orti' Mayan for Laughing Falcon--an omen of rain in eastern Guatemala)
9) European Golden Plover (2009--thousands in fields in southern Holland in the yellow light of late afternoon)
10) Fairy Tern (2009--the prettiest urban bird ever in beautiful Waikiki)

Here's to more PA birds, ABA birds, and global birds for everyone in the next decade!

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