On this final day of 2012 it is time, just like it was on the final days of 2010 and 2011, to share your Best Birds of the Year. Well, actually, your Best Bird of the Year will only be shared here if you took the time to respond to the post in which we here at 10,000 Birds shared our Best Birds of the Year. A whole bunch of you responded and shared your best birds either in blog post form, email form, or in our comments. Here, without further ado, are your Best Birds of 2012, in no particular order.
Attila Steiner, who I was lucky enough to meet while I was in Hungary, was ecstatic to see a rare rail in Ghana:
It was my last afternoon in Ankasa Reserve, Ghana. After lazing in the heat I decided to visit the forest pools one last time, hoping for another sighting of Hartlaub’s Duck or White-bellied Kingfisher. Isaac, my local guide was hesitantly following. As we reached the second pool we heard a bird creeping in the vegetation. Suddenly Isaac whispered: Grey-throated Rail. I was stunned. It was a mythical bird I didn’t ever expect to see. Then we watched an adult and a chick feeding along the poolside. I even managed to shoot a video with hands trembling of excitement, probably a first of the species.
Bruce Wilson was excited by a hybrid wood-warbler. (Make sure to click that link for pictures!)
Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station in Toronto had an extremely rare and beautiful Townsend’s Warbler x Black-throated Gray Warbler which was banded in April. It is only the third or forth known occurrence of this hybrid.
Rebecca Deatsman picked a Best Bird of the Year that was the same as my Best Bird of the Year last year. What exquisite taste!
I think my official Best Bird of 2012, though, was (finally, finally seeing) the Burrowing Owl. I kept missing them for years. I was the only one who didn’t see one my summer in Saskatchewan. A colony of them disappeared from the Gilbert Water Ranch just before we started going birding there. However, as regular readers will remember, I finally defeated my nemesis bird over Thanksgiving break at Veterans Oasis Park Chandler, Arizona.
Tai Haku liked Mike’s choice of a chicken in our original post but decided to do him one better.
I’m gonna almost agree with Mike but one-up him slightly as my bird of the year is the less bulkier, less showy but slightly cooler Grey Junglefowl. I’ve always been interested in wild versions of farm animals and was lucky enough to see both species this year and to me the grey junglefowl is like that cool hipster band to the red junglefowl’s worldwide pop smash – it makes less effort and is less colourful but somehow understatement makes it more interesting. I had some awesome photos of an unusually bold cock bird which I seem to have misplaced but probably the real reason I like them so much is that stopping the jeep to photograph that bird allowed the 5 tigers that walked out in front of us just after that time to do so.
Graham Clarke liked Dotterel, a bird he needed for Ireland.
Dotterel are not exceptionally rare in Ireland occurring during both spring and autumn migration. However their preference for high mountains plateaus or large open stubble fields means that they are probably overlooked or pass through unseen.
To finally connect with the species and to do so in such subtle light and with two very confiding individuals makes them my Best Bird of the Year!
Thainamu chose a snipe! And, yes, they are real.
I added 38 lifers in 2012, including Wilson’s Snipe. I took up birding late in life, so it wasn’t that many years ago I thought snipes were a joke!
Peter Thoem chose a bird that would be my Best Bird of the Year as well.
Kirtland’s Warbler. I don’t keep lists and as a rule I don’t chase rarities. But I do monitor our local hotline and couldn’t resist a Kirtland’s Warbler that showed up not far from home. Kirtland’s Warblers are rare, apparently fewer than 2,000 in the world, they winter in the Bahamas and summer in Michigan. Draw a line between those 2 points and our home is not far off their track. But with only 2,000 worldwide, what are the chances? Well it happened and I wrote it up as Bird of the Day on 5th May.
Another Rebecca chose a very nice, very blue bird as her Best Bird of the Year.
My best bird of the year was one that I had always heard of but never seen–the Indigo Bunting. On a totally ordinary Toledo afternoon when I was visiting my favorite Metropark, there he was: a spectacular indigo minding his own business at one of the wildlife center’s birdfeeders.
Greg Majewski chose a very nice, very red bird as his Best Bird of the Year.
My best bird of the year was my (and my wife’s) very first Scarlet Tanager. I have chronicled the experience on my blog.
The folks at Rockjumper Birding Tours each picked their Best Birds of the Year. And you should definitely check out their mouthwatering list!
Pat O’Donnell had a heck of a year’s worth of birding but when forced to choose he chose a pretty darn cool owl.
2012 was one of my best years for birding in Costa Rica. It was so good that at least two species that could have easily been given “Bird of the Year” status were beaten out by the winner, my lifer Unspotted Saw-whet Owl.
Last, but certainly not least, Prairie Birder chose a plover. A plover that is well worth being anyone’s Best Bird of the Year.
My best bird of the year has to be the Piping Plover. This past June I was invited along by the Edmonton Nature Club on a field trip to a Piping Plover breeding site. I was very excited to go because I’d never seen Piping Plovers before. While there an Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer removed the exclosures so we were able to get a good look at the very tiny Piping Plovers nests. In the area where we were, we saw 10 adults and five chicks. It was wonderful!
Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their Best Birds of the Year. And if you forgot to get yours in on time feel free to leave your stories and links in the comments.
Here’s hoping 2013 brings you as many great birds as 2012 did! Happy New Year!
My favourite/best bird of 2012 has to be the Turtle Dove that I had for about half a minute before being flushed by some noisy dog and owners, never located it again. It was the first one I had seen in four years and giving the loss of habitat and the rate the species is being lost I wonder how long before I see or hear another one?
GREAT best bird, Rebecca! But you’re pulling your punches when you say that the owls “disappeared” from Gilbert Water Ranch. They were killed by feral house cats, dumped there by cruel pet owners and fed by equally cruel tnr devotees.
My best bird of the year would have to be the Broad-winged Hawk. This was not only a life bird for me but it happened at the first Hawk Watch I had ever attended! My post on the Broad-winged Hawk at Hawkwatch 2012 can be seen here.
@Doug: It is sad how they have declined. Here’s hoping they make a comeback!
@Rick: That is horrible – but thanks for the information!
@Larry: You don’t get to choose another! You already picked Black-backed Woodpecker!
My bird of the year was the Common Cuckoo. The chase down from the WFO meeting was lots of fun and there is nothing like the anticipation of waiting for a Mega to make an appearance. Then that moment finally comes when the bird comes into view and I got to be the first to notice the bird and started yelling “CUCKOO!” to get everyone’s attention on the bird. It was magical.
Great list! Personally, I chose a group of four Pine Grosbeaks that I saw on Christmas Day in Vermont – mainly for the shock of seeing them through the office window while renting a car! I wrote the full story here.