2011 is about to become 2012 and birders the world over are taking a look at their year lists and reminiscing about the awesome sightings and devastating 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, just like we did last year.  Below are the results, three-sentence 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 three-sentence 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!

If you’d like to see what readers shared from last year, check it out!  I’m looking forward to the awesome posts and descriptions from birders the world over and can’t wait to see all the images!

Larry loved getting a jaeger:

On a trip to Clear Lake, California, last September, I had the privilege of joining Dr. Floyd Hayes as he and three fellow birders monitored the waterbirds on the entire lake in conjunction with the ongoing four year Grebe Conservation Project there. While on the lake that day, Floyd’s sharp eyed student assistant, Doug, spotted a juvenile Parasitic Jaeger (Sterocorarius parasiticus) on this lake that is over fifty miles from the Pacific Ocean. Not only did we not expect to see this seabird this far inland, it was a life bird for me!

juvenile Parasitic Jaeger by Larry Jordan

Jochen enjoyed a plover:

My Best Bird of the Year is a White-tailed Lapwing I “twitched” in Germany in June. It is my best bird because it is just such an incredible species, and looking at it made me realize that I had temporarily stopped to fully appreciate birds during the stressful last few years. And so I came, twitched, remained and watched instead of coming, twitching and driving on.

White-tailed Lapwing by Jochen Roeder

Duncan made a surprising choice:

While the twitchers might have gone with the lost Emperor Penguin that washed up in June, my heart belongs to another. It was the Shore Plovers I saw that same day just a bit down the coast. They represent the best of New Zealand’s birding, the astonishing rarity, the fascinating endemism, and the cheering triumph of conservation.

Shore Plover by Duncan Wright

Adam couldn’t choose just one:

I must admit I’m a sucker for big, colorful, showy birds and although New Guinea rightly claims the prize in this category, I haven’t had the privilege of journeying to that magical island this year, so for my bird of the year I have chosen Cock-of-the-rock. I was fortunate enough to enjoy both remarkable species of these bizarre and truly over-the-top giant cotingas this year and I honestly couldn’t choose which was the better one, so I have taken the liberty of bending the rules and choosing them both, can you blame me? I photographed this Guianan Cock-of-the-rock at a lek site near Surama, deep in the rainforest zone of Guyana, and my incredible experience with Andean Cock-of-the-rockswas at a display lek on the edge of the town of Jardin, in the coffee-belt of Colombia, both just incredible birds that make the heart soar with joy!

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock (left) and Andean Cock-of-the-rock (right) by Adam Riley

Redgannet’s choice turned out rather, well, pedestrian:

I was bloated with smugness after stalking and managing to get a photograph of what I imagined to be a rare and elusive rallid during a trip to Costanera Sur on an Argentine autumn morning. The Grey-necked Wood Rail allowed me a good look and was a delight to watch as it picked its way through the dappled shade of the trees by the edge of the reserve. I had elevated its status to ‘legendary’ in my own mind and was already composing posts for the ornithological world to marvel at my good fortune and undoubted skill, so it came as a shock to find them scavenging at street cafés and chasing off the city pigeons, but they remain my favourite bird of the year nonetheless.

Gray-necked Wood Rail

Gray-necked Wood Rail by Redgannet

Greg had two birds but he managed to choose one as his best and one a runner-up:

My best bird was Archaeopteryx. It was all mushed up but you could still see its feathers.

qn Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China

Runner-up: The Bald Eagle that swooped around over the Big Gay Race in Minneapolis in October, which I didn’t get a picture of.  Has it been the Small Gay Race it might have picked off a couple of racers.  That was a cool bird sighting because the eagle had to swoop around among power lines and overpasses and high rise buildings, being right in the dead middle of the city and all.

For some reason Felonious Jive shared Seagull Steve’s Best Bird of the Year:

One of the reasons Seagull Steve went to North Dakota last summer was to spend some time with Baird’s Sparrows. They may be drab, but their pleasant ringing song and close relationship to the prairie make for a very interesting bird. The staggering number of birders encountered fiending to see a Baird’s only made watching them that much sweeter.

Baird’s Sparrow by Seagull Steve

Julie’s was not a wild bird, well, at least not one that lived outdoors:

My Best Bird of the Year, and the 22 preceding, was Charlie, a Chestnut-fronted Macaw I got as a captive-raised fledgling in 1989.  She made a fool of me when I first met her, and again when she left me. That takes some doing, but Charlie was the bird to do it.

Charlie and Julie kissing

Clare Kines chose a loon:

I have been following them closely since they first appeared a couple of years ago, and set up summer quarters here. The summer before last a pair of Pacific Loons arrived at my favourite birdy spot and began building a nest, which eventually failed. This year I watched them from the day they arrived, until two chicks successfully hatched, the northernmost breeding record for the species.

Pacific Loons by Clare Kines

The other Clare, Clare Morton, chose Upupa epops.

Hoopoe was my Best Bird of the Year despite all the new birds I saw in Busan, South Korea. It was the most unexpected bird and just shows that anything can show up anywhere! You can read all about it here.

Hoopoe by Clare Morton

Donna’s best birds were boobies!

I didn’t want to go with the obvious answer to the best bird question, but after reviewing the hundred zillion photographs I took in the Galapagos this summer, Blue-footed Booby, Sula nebouxii, has to be the answer. Blue-footed Boobies dance, whistle, court with their blue bills, cradle eggs with their blue feet, and cherish their young; they are endlessly fun and inspiring to observe.  On Seymour Island, my group witnessed a very human-like interaction amongst three boobies, one female and two males.

Blue-footed Boobies by Donna Schulman

Carrie pre-empted my pick:

After a another year spent among the magnificent wide-open spaces of Big Sky Country, my best bird of the entire solar cycle was spotted… sitting on a lamppost in Coney Island. I don’t think that it’s homesickness that makes me say that August’s Gray-hooded Gull was an unbeatable addition to my list, and I love the incongruity of seeing amazing birds in gritty places. Getting this bad boy took a little sting out of the whole Western Reef-heron fiasco, as well.

Gray-hooded Gull by Corey Finger

Nate chose a tropicbird:

My best bird of the year had to be White-tailed Tropicbird.  This was a great summer for them in the Gulf Stream, with multiple birds seen offshore on nearly every trip.  Needless to say, you hate to be on the one that misses them.  We had had a slow day, with little wind and fewer birds, until the call came across the bow sending everyone to the railings. “TROOOOOOOPICBIRD!!!”.  Three adults circled the boat for what seemed like forever giving the kind of looks you only dream about.  It didn’t matter that we didn’t see much else.  That kind of bird sends everyone home happy.

White-tailed Tropicbird by Nathan Swick

Renato chose an impressive parrot:

Birding is a wonderful experience in itself.  But the whole thing gets better when you finally see a bird you have always wanted – like the Chestnut-fronted Macaw – and even better when the whole experience helps needed people from a poor community.  This wonderful experience happened when I visited the Pacto Sumaco community on the east slopes of Ecuador.

Chestnut-fronted Macaw by Renato Espinosa

Interestingly, Mike chose a macaw as well:

Despite a number of persuasive contenders for the honor, the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) handily beat all comers for my Best Bird of the Year. This resplendent whopper of a parrot is as charismatic as avian megafauna gets. Plus, when I visited Carara National Park in Costa Rica with Patrick O’Donnell, the macaw flock’s eye-searing scarlet, yellow, and blue offered welcome relief from the unremitting gray of ever-present rain clouds!

Scarlet Macaw by Mike Bergin

My Best Bird of the Year is one I have long wanted to see that I finally tracked down way back in early January on the tail end of my trip to southern California.  What’s not to like about an owl that lives underground?  That’s right, my Best Bird of the Year is the Burrowing Owl!

Burrowing Owls by Corey Finger

Now, remember, give a three-sentence 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 2012!

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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.