John of DC Birding Blog started a cool new birding meme, possibly the first such meme ever, and promptly tagged me with it.

Rules: Post a list of the 10 birds you consider most beautiful on your blog; you may limit the list to the ABA area (continental United States and Canada) or use a geographic area of your choice. Mark birds you have seen with an asterisk. Tag 3 bloggers to keep it going.

After careful consultation, the Core Team chose to restrict our list to ABA-area birds we’ve seen, though not necessarily birds we’ve seen in the ABA-area, if that makes sense. All these beauties get asterisks as well as bonus commentary:

Painted Bunting* – I wouldn’t necessarily adopt the male’s riotous color scheme myself, but what an overwhelmingly attractive bird!
Scarlet Tanager* – Beats out Vermilion Flycatcher and Northern Cardinal for best combination of black and eye-searing red.
Purple Gallinule* – The sexiest bird in any swamp.
American Kestrel* – What’s not to love about a blue and orange raptor? Plus, it’s pocket-sized.
Red-winged Blackbird* – This bird’s abundance obscures how magnificent the juxtaposition of its pitch plumage and flame-colored epaulets really are. I feel the same way about the Stygian luster of the Common Grackle in spring.
Cedar Waxwing* – This natty species brings ‘sleek’ to a dazzling new level.
Tree Swallow* – All swallows possess elegance, but this bird also brings a remarkable azure iridescence to the table.
Northern Gannet* – Other seabirds wish they could be this smooth and polished.
Common Loon* – Though I’m also a big fan of Northern and White-cheeked Pintails, loons in breeding plumage are the class of the waterfowl category.
Hooded Warbler* – How can we pick just one warbler? Virtually every spring male is an aesthetic masterpiece. But Sara loves the strong colors of this bright yellow and black songbird.

Since we restricted the list above to birds in the ABA area, we couldn’t mention Neotropical delights like toucans or mot-mots. However, any account of our favorite birds would be incomplete without a mention of the Blue-gray Tanager. The only thing better than spotting one of these ethereal beauties is spotting a treeful!

I’m not going to tag anyone specifically, but the lists other bloggers have put together have been fascinating. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d love to read more…

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Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.