2010 is coming to a close and birders the world over are taking a look at their year lists and reminiscing about the amazing sightings and soul-crushing dips that they have experienced.  We here at 10,000 Birds thought this would be a perfect time to look back and figure out what each of us considered our best bird of the year.  Below are the results, 100-word descriptions from many of us here at 10,000 Birds* describing the bird, the finding of the bird, or some aspect of seeing the bird.  We would like you to join in!

If you don’t have a blog either give a 100-word description of your best bird of the year in the comments below or email a description to corey AT 10000birds DOT com by 26 December (you can include an image if you want – just make it a maximum of 600 pixels across).  If you have a blog please write as long a description of your Best Bird of the Year as you want on your blog and provide a link in the comments or via email by 26 December.  On 31 December I will publish another post with links to all the blog posts and the descriptions emailed to me or left in the comments and we can all revel in each others’ Best Birds of the Year!

Dan had a great Best Bird of the Year, one that other birders in Europe are likely to drool about:

This is one of those rare gems that birders drive for miles and miles to see. Friday, December 3rd, members of BirdLife Cyprus began hearing of a report of a Grey Hypocolios that had been seen in Cape Greco. A very select group of people knew what this was, but the majority of birders here said, “A what?,” and scrambled for our field guides. You see this bird is so completely unheard of here that few of us had even heard of it before – and we know our birds as well as anyone. The next morning I went to look for it, and I was lucky enough to see it immediately upon my arrival. Here’s a photo by Stavros Christodoulides of the very bird:

Dan’s BBOTY, Grey Hypocolios

Jory‘s Best Bird of the Year is yet to come.  I’ll let him explain:

Perhaps I should get a camera.  Here’s why.

My best bird of 2010 is going to be a PAINTED REDSTART.  I am going to be the one to find it.  Before year-end.  In New York.  All by myself.  It’s going to be on a Christmas Bird Count.  I won’t believe it, so I’ll yell and scream.  The others in my CBC team will come over and help me identify it.

And if it’s not a Painted Redstart, it will be another species just as rare in these parts.

James’ BBOTY, Sunbittern

James had an amazing bird for his Best Bird of the Year, one that he recently blogged about right here on 10,000 Birds.

Although not a life-bird for me, seeing a pair of Sunbitterns at the nest in Costa Rica was without doubt my Best Bird of the Year. It wasn’t just the birds but rather the circumstances that made this sighting so memorable. We got stuck in one of the most violent flash-floods imaginable and watched awestruck as these brave Sunbitterns looked after their nestlings, with rising floodwaters threatening to wash away their nest and their babies. A unique bird species operating under unique conditions. Incredible!

Alan‘s Best Bird of the Year is a bird far more often heard than seen…and he got a picture!

Alan’s BBOTY, Nightingale

In the final minutes of my ‘farewell to Bilbao’ trip in August, I was on a scrub-covered hill high above the port watching three juvenile Red-backed Shrikes. I moved left to get a better angle through a natural arch of thorn. A movement a few feet ahead caused me to stop and lift my gaze from the stony path to the tail pumping Nightingale eyeballing me suspiciously for perhaps five long seconds, enough time to capture an image of the all too often heard but not seen songster. Lets just say we shared a moment.

Dale is pretty happy about an encounter with a Gurney’s Pitta, an encounter he has already blogged.

Dale’s BBOTY, Gurney’s Pitta

I really like Smarties. But I would even give up Smarties for more days with pittas. Now I went to Khao Nor Chu Chi Wildlife Park in Southern Thailand specifically to see pittas and nothing would distract me from my jungle beauties. No mosquito swatting, no watching other birds, no wiggling, nothing. And the first time I ever saw a Gurney’s Pitta was as it almost landed on top of a Hooded Pitta. How can life possibly get better? Soak up the smells, let the forest dampness seep through your pants, and let a smile fill your entire body.

Patrick had a great experience with a gorgeous bird on his trip in January:

Patrick’s BBOTY, Antillean Euphonia

On my trip to Puerto Rico in January, I saw many beautiful species, but one in particular stands out. One morning, I was buying coffee in the Hacienda Juanita hotel office when I heard shouting outside. It was one of our leaders. I could make out the words “Antillean” and “Euphonia” and that’s all I needed to hear.  While not an endemic, it’s a sought-after Caribbean species and one I really didn’t expect to see. We all had amazing looks at a male and female checking out bromeliads (that’s where they nest) in a tree right in the parking lot. What luck!

Clare in was overjoyed to see her Best Bird of the Year, a young shorebird:

Clare’s BBOTY, Pied Oystercatcher

My Best Bird of the Year has to be the one surviving Pied Oystercatcher chick from our 23kms of beach that we survey. Sixteen pairs and over 40 eggs this year and we finally have a success story. This bird is even more “best” as it has a banded parent that was caught as an adult in Roebuck Bay in 1992 – the oldest known bird in the north-west of Australia. The chick has now been banded, as it will be flying before Xmas! It will be interesting to see its movements in coming months and years.

Renato‘s Best Bird of the Year is one that I certainly wish I had seen while I was in Ecuador, an Andean Condor!

Renato’s BBOTY, Andean Condor

The sighting of this marvelous creature was the most significant experience of 2010, not only because it is our national bird, but also because it was a lifer.  I saw it from my backyard, an Andean Condor, which had not been seen in Pululahua for more than ten years.  I stood outside with my camera in hand shooting about three frames per second to record the unbelievable bird.   My wife also shared in the excitement as she stood next to me and asked if we could attract the bird by putting some meat out in the patio!  The sighting of this great bird inspired me to initiate my first birding blog: Birding Ecuador for Conservation.

Duncan has no doubt about his Best Bird of the Year:

Without question it was the Long-tailed Broadbill at Fraser’s Hill in Malaysia.  I shouldn’t have seen them. They are visible in the breeding season and it wasn’t. I had pretty much given up hope, and was even composing a 10,000 Birds post about how that particular family always eludes me. And then there they were. First one, then more, and more. A flock of five, maybe six.

They defy description. I have never seen a bird that pictures have done less justice to. I was expecting a small, bright but otherwise ordinary bird, and I saw a large jewel. I don’t think I have ever been more surprised by a bird. So they are my Best Bird of the Year.

Redgannet has a confession to make and an interesting choice for his Best Bird of the Year:

Redgannet’s BBOTY, Redwing

My name is Redgannet and I own two cats.

I know it’s a shocking confession to share with the world-wide birding community, but I need to tell someone. Between them, those cats have brought in half of Kent’s small rodents and unwary birds.

During severe weather in January, a flock of Redwings, Turdus iliacus, were driven off the nearby hills. Emboldened by hunger, they fed on the pyracanthus berries right outside our front window. Their brazenness drove the cats wild as the birds teased them through the glass. They are my favourite birds of 2010 because I hate those cats!

Larry‘s Best Bird of the Year is a species he had spotted only once before that, for some reason, decided to be amazingly cooperative for him this year.

Larry’s BBOTY, Virginia Rail

When I heard of a Virginia Rail that had been spotted foraging out in the open at Lema Ranch, I was pretty excited.  Sure, we have seen Soras at this location many a time but a Virginia Rail?  I had only seen one once before and that was a very brief look.  So the possibility of photographing a Virginia Rail piqued my interest.

As I approached Mule Pond, I spotted the rail right away.  It was exactly where I was told it would be, foraging for invertebrates on the mudflats. I learned a lot about this secretive bird that day.

Clare had a heck of a year in the far north and was happy to share his Best Bird of the Year, a surprising species that far north.

Clare’s BBOTY, Pacific Loon

It was a year of surprises, from the serendipitous discovery of two radio tagged Red Knots in flight, to my first Yellow-billed Loon, slightly north of where it would be expected. But if I had to choose I would have to pick the Pacific Loon.

Two actually. For the sheer surprise of finding a pair of these beautifully elegant birds and watch them as they established one of the most northerly known nests for the species topped all of the others.  They are startlingly beautiful, with so many themes of black, white and grey. A very nice surprise indeed.

Carrie‘s Best Bird of the Year was the best kind, one that is shared with someone else.

Carrie’s BBOTY, Saw-whet Owl

Despite ferocious competition, my best bird of the year was the Saw-whet Owl that the Inimitable Todd and I saw on Amherst Island.  Why?  Well, owls are cool. Tiny things are cool. Finding a sought-after species when you’ve about given up hope of finding it is cool.  Having that find made by a non-birder you’ve dragged along is cool.  And coolest of all is seeing such a bird in a place where it returns, year after year, because those in charge have made an effort to balance the needs of the birds with the needs of the birders.

Julie‘s Best Bird of the Year is a bird she got to know as an individual.

Julie’s BBOTY, Seamus the Cedar Waxwing

Best Bird of the Year for 2010? An orphaned Cedar Waxwing named Seamus.  I raised two baby waxwings in rapid succession in late summer 2010.  Seamus was the second.  He was a star from the get-go, a good eater with just the right balance of sense and curiosity.  He hung around for a week or so after release, joining smoothly with the local wild flock but coming back every now and then for a mealworm treat and a quick chuck under the chin.  He stole a little piece of my heart and took it with him when he whirled off into the September sky with the wild flock.

Charlie didn’t get out and about birding this year much but when he did he spotted a doozy:

I only saw a few birds this year, so I would say despite the brief views a male Snow Finch in the Bavarian Alps which flew up off a crag and song flighted across a perfect blue sky in front of us – striking bird, song bouncing off the rocks, clear sky, peaks and mountains laid out behind, hardly anyone else around to ruin the view – perfect. A lifer and a bird I didn’t think I would ever see.

Mike‘s Best Bird of the Year is testament to the hard work of others.  I heard he was actually drinking a giant margarita and didn’t even have binoculars when he saw his BBOTY!

Mike’s BBOTY, Black-headed Antthrush

In a year of epic avian observation, my best bird is a testament to the power of phenomenal guiding. The Black-headed Antthrush, like most of its exotic ilk, skulks with the best of them in close, dark forests. Yet, Danilo Rodriguez of Panama’s Canopy Lodge was not only able to coax one in for a good view, but managed over a furious 45 minutes to whistle the shy, teetering bird out into the open at our feet. To spy some of the best birds in the world, you need to travel in the company of its best birders!

And, finally, my personal Best Bird of the Year is an easy one.  Maria, the Giant Antpitta at Refugio Paz de las Aves in Ecuador, who I got to meet up close and personal and even feed from my hand!  I had never had such a great experience with a bird and I hope everyone someday gets to experience something so special.

my BBOTY, Maria the Giant Antpitta

Now, remember, give a 100-word description of your Best Bird of the Year in the comments below or email a description to corey AT 10000birds DOT com by 26 December (you can include an image if you want – just make it a maximum of 600 pixels across).  If you have a blog please write as long a description of your best bird of the year as you want on your blog and provide a link in the comments or via email by 26 December.  On 31 December I will publish another post with links to all the blog posts and the descriptions emailed to me or left in the comments and we can all revel in each others’ Best Birds of the Year!

*Rest assured that those 10,000 Beat Writers who did not submit a Best Bird of the Year will see only coal in their stockings and nary a life bird in 2011!

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.