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Bucket List Birds (1 Viewer)

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Probably has been done before in this forum, but I wanted to ask everyone, what do you consider to be your top bucket list birds?

This can be that highly restricted endemic that you can only find in one island or mountain peak or that family exclusive bird that has no close relatives, but it can also be a common bird that was your spark into this hobby or it can even be a bird you already saw but you probably cheered when you had that encounter. Mostly wondering this as I am currently trying to find what birds people would give priority to over others in the world.

I'll start the list off with 10 birds that either sparked my love for the hobby when I first heard of them or that as I read and research, I want to see more and more (first 5 are the highest on my personal list):
  1. Capuchinbird
  2. Western Capercaillie
  3. Horned Guan
  4. Shoebill
  5. King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise
  6. Cuban Trogon
  7. Helmet Vanga
  8. Harpy Eagle
  9. Tragopan sp.
  10. Araripe Manakin
Of course, this is just a bucket/wish list, don't take it too seriously and just enjoy it. If anything, my top 10 showed me how none of my favorite bird families (New World Warblers, New World Tanagers, Woodpeckers and Waterfowl made my list)
 

Mono

Hi!
Staff member
Supporter
Europe
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Well, my long term goal is to see at least one representative from every family and subfamily. Beyond that, I'm not sure if I have ever really sat down and pondered anything more specific than that. I guess in no real order my bucket list would be the following:

Kagu
Cuckoo Roller
Kakapo
I'iwi
Kiwi (any species)
Crowned Pigeon (any)
Ivory Gull
Cock of the Rock (any)
Gnatpitta (any)
Cassowary (any)
Atlantic Puffin
Shoebill
Rail-Babbler
Tropicbird (any)

I am sure that half of the birds on this list would change completely if you asked me a week from now
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Well, my long term goal is to see at least one representative from every family and subfamily. Beyond that, I'm not sure if I have ever really sat down and pondered anything more specific than that. I guess in no real order my bucket list would be the following:

Kagu
Cuckoo Roller
Kakapo
I'iwi
Kiwi (any species)
Crowned Pigeon (any)
Ivory Gull
Cock of the Rock (any)
Gnatpitta (any)
Cassowary (any)
Atlantic Puffin
Shoebill
Rail-Babbler
Tropicbird (any)

I am sure that half of the birds on this list would change completely if you asked me a week from now
That sounds about right, I have the same goal to see every bird family, so I get that feeling. Hopefully my trip to Guyana in February goes through and I get at least 5 new bird families (2 of which are monotypic), but only time will tell.

Your targets are definitely some sought after birds, though not sure if we'll ever be able to see a Kakapo without being on that difficult to get volunteer list to help in the island they are protected.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
That sounds about right, I have the same goal to see every bird family, so I get that feeling. Hopefully my trip to Guyana in February goes through and I get at least 5 new bird families (2 of which are monotypic), but only time will tell.

Your targets are definitely some sought after birds, though not sure if we'll ever be able to see a Kakapo without being on that difficult to get volunteer list to help in the island they are protected.
Yeah, Guyana/Surinam is on the list of bird destinations I am hoping to get to in the next 2 years. Presumably nabbing a trumpeter is on the agenda?


As for Kakapo, might as well aim high for a bucket list!
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Yeah, Guyana/Surinam is on the list of bird destinations I am hoping to get to in the next 2 years. Presumably nabbing a trumpeter is on the agenda?


As for Kakapo, might as well aim high for a bucket list!
Gray-winged Trumpeter was one of my main reasons I told the guide I wanted to do the trip, add to that Harpy Eagle, Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock, Capuchinbird, Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo, Sungrebe, Hoatzin, and Sunbittern and it's difficult to not be excited. Plus mammal watching will be great and a lot more sought after regional endemics and South American megas are in the itinerary. Though, it's definitely a trip that will be more time in basic lodges since it's in the middle of nowhere.

For Trumpeters though, one of the people joining me, told me that they had pretty good luck with Dark-winged Trumpeter in Cristalino Lodge, so that would be my backup site for the family or Manu National Park in Peru (for Pale-winged Trumpeter), if I miss out on Gray-winged (which is best seen as a drive by species instead of a having a site for it).

Needless to say though, I'd rather focus on other species and families if I can get Trumpeter off my list early on (especially with how birdy South America is and how expensive the sites for this family are).
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Gray-winged Trumpeter was one of my main reasons I told the guide I wanted to do the trip, add to that Harpy Eagle, Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock, Capuchinbird, Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo, Sungrebe, Hoatzin, and Sunbittern and it's difficult to not be excited. Plus mammal watching will be great and a lot more sought after regional endemics and South American megas are in the itinerary. Though, it's definitely a trip that will be more time in basic lodges since it's in the middle of nowhere.
Saw all these with relative ease when Venezuela was still open.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Saw all these with relative ease when Venezuela was still open.
I can imagine, Venezuela is definitely one of the birdiest countries in the world, the first time I saw a Capuchinbird was in Attenborough's Life of Birds and how it was filmed in Venezuela. Sadly, seeing how the country is today and how I come from a country that is today and coming from a country like it (Cuba), I don't have much hopes of visiting Venezuela any time soon (if ever).
 

PJSharp

Well-known member
So my bucket list, how to put it together... well birds I haven't seen, not extinct, reasonable geographical spread, different, if possible spectacular environments, not easy to see, plus some combination of beautiful, weird or inspiring.

1. Giant Pitta. I have tried, lots. I have heard it, but never seen one. As far as I know not reliably staked out. Have to find it myself...

2. Pallas' Sandgrouse. The very idea of finding one on the English East coast? Or the stark beauty of seeing 1000s in the Gobi desert.

3. Night Parrot. Just read about them.

4. Steller's Sea-eagle. Massive, prehistoric, Japanese icebergs.

5. Siberian Crane. Dancing in the winter at Poyang Hue. Been there, missed them...

6. Wilson's Bird of Paradise. Male display, Waigeo, just getting there.

7. Wandering Albatross. At sea.

8. Harpy Eagle. Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

9. Blakiston's Fish-Owl. Japan in winter, the food, culture, scenery, and an enormous fish eating owl.

10. Yellow-headed Picathartes. Cote d'Ivoire.

Somehow 10 is not enough... no space for Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, Snoring Rail, Reeves Pheasant, Marvelous Spatuletail, Baikal Teal... And no little brown jobs.

And an hourable mention to Ibisbill, Wallcreeper, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Bristlehead, Gurney's Pitta, Pygmy Falcon, Bat Hawk... All of which might have made the list, but I am lucky enough to have seen them.

Happy birding, Paul
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
So my bucket list, how to put it together... well birds I haven't seen, not extinct, reasonable geographical spread, different, if possible spectacular environments, not easy to see, plus some combination of beautiful, weird or inspiring.

1. Giant Pitta. I have tried, lots. I have heard it, but never seen one. As far as I know not reliably staked out. Have to find it myself...

2. Pallas' Sandgrouse. The very idea of finding one on the English East coast? Or the stark beauty of seeing 1000s in the Gobi desert.

3. Night Parrot. Just read about them.

4. Steller's Sea-eagle. Massive, prehistoric, Japanese icebergs.

5. Siberian Crane. Dancing in the winter at Poyang Hue. Been there, missed them...

6. Wilson's Bird of Paradise. Male display, Waigeo, just getting there.

7. Wandering Albatross. At sea.

8. Harpy Eagle. Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

9. Blakiston's Fish-Owl. Japan in winter, the food, culture, scenery, and an enormous fish eating owl.

10. Yellow-headed Picathartes. Cote d'Ivoire.

Somehow 10 is not enough... no space for Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, Snoring Rail, Reeves Pheasant, Marvelous Spatuletail, Baikal Teal... And no little brown jobs.

And an hourable mention to Ibisbill, Wallcreeper, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Bristlehead, Gurney's Pitta, Pygmy Falcon, Bat Hawk... All of which might have made the list, but I am lucky enough to have seen them.

Happy birding, Paul
Amazing list of targets and amazing birds that you've already seen too. You're right though, 10 is not enough, but it's a starting point. From your top 10 birds, it seems like Night Parrot might be your hardest followed by Giant Pitta and Siberian Crane. The rest can only be described as good targets is you make the time and have the money to go to those obscure sites.

I wouldn't deny anyone who loves to chase a vagrant for a twitch, but having seen Caribbean birds in both their native islands (Bahamas) and in Florida, I can say that the vagrant birds tend to leave something wanting simply because you can tell that they aren't comfortable or used to the place they are in. But maybe, that's just me. Overall, great list and many of them are birds I have further down on my list, and I would be lying if I said that that Sandgrouse didn't give me yet one more reason to keep Mongolia somewhere in my travel list in the future.
 

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
My one and only long-term birding goal is to see every species of bird regularly breeding, migrating, or wintering in North America (ABA Area). Basically, this is every species that occurs yearly in N.A.

As far as the birds I would most like to see, in the short-term, they are (in no particular order):
1. Kirtland's Warbler
2. Cerulean Warbler
3. Hooded Warbler
4. Painted Bunting
5. Prothonotary Warbler
6. Peregrine Falcon
7. Summer Tanager
8. Swainson's Warbler
9. Henslow's Sparrow
10. Bicknell's Thrush

This is just a quick list of some birds I would love to see, and are somewhat feasible for me to see in the short-term. As far as a long-term bucket list, that's way too hard.

Btw, my favorite bird family is Parulidae as well (you can probably tell from my list)
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
My one and only long-term birding goal is to see every species of bird regularly breeding, migrating, or wintering in North America (ABA Area). Basically, this is every species that occurs yearly in N.A.

As far as the birds I would most like to see, in the short-term, they are (in no particular order):
1. Kirtland's Warbler
2. Cerulean Warbler
3. Hooded Warbler
4. Painted Bunting
5. Prothonotary Warbler
6. Peregrine Falcon
7. Summer Tanager
8. Swainson's Warbler
9. Henslow's Sparrow
10. Bicknell's Thrush

This is just a quick list of some birds I would love to see, and are somewhat feasible for me to see in the short-term. As far as a long-term bucket list, that's way too hard.

Btw, my favorite bird family is Parulidae as well (you can probably tell from my list)
Good favorite bird family for sure, as for your targets, I'd say that a trip to South Texas or Florida during spring migration might give you all of the birds in your list except Kirtland's Warbler, Henslow's Sparrow and Bicknell's Thrush (these might only have a good chance in their breeding grounds or their wintering grounds if you're willing to leave the US for the Warbler and the Thrush).

If you ever choose to make a trip to South Florida, let me know, I'd be glad to tell you the best hotspots for the targets in your list, whether it is the colorful migrants, the resident specialties or the out-of-place but still beautiful exotics.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Amazing list of targets and amazing birds that you've already seen too. You're right though, 10 is not enough, but it's a starting point. From your top 10 birds, it seems like Night Parrot might be your hardest followed by Giant Pitta and Siberian Crane. The rest can only be described as good targets is you make the time and have the money to go to those obscure sites.

I wouldn't deny anyone who loves to chase a vagrant for a twitch, but having seen Caribbean birds in both their native islands (Bahamas) and in Florida, I can say that the vagrant birds tend to leave something wanting simply because you can tell that they aren't comfortable or used to the place they are in. But maybe, that's just me. Overall, great list and many of them are birds I have further down on my list, and I would be lying if I said that that Sandgrouse didn't give me yet one more reason to keep Mongolia somewhere in my travel list in the future.

Having birded in Panama, I admit my interest in twitching ABA area vagrants, at least non-local ones, has definitely plummeted. I am a man of somewhat modest means, and its hard to justify spending 5,000 dollars or more on a trip to the Bering Sea for the chance at a handful of strays, when I can spend the same money on a much longer (and comfortable!) trip to East Asia, and get those same birds plus probably a hundred plus lifers. I still plan on birding Alaska at some point, but more for the auklets, arctic ducks, and other native birds.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
My one and only long-term birding goal is to see every species of bird regularly breeding, migrating, or wintering in North America (ABA Area). Basically, this is every species that occurs yearly in N.A.

As far as the birds I would most like to see, in the short-term, they are (in no particular order):
1. Kirtland's Warbler
2. Cerulean Warbler
3. Hooded Warbler
4. Painted Bunting
5. Prothonotary Warbler
6. Peregrine Falcon
7. Summer Tanager
8. Swainson's Warbler
9. Henslow's Sparrow
10. Bicknell's Thrush

This is just a quick list of some birds I would love to see, and are somewhat feasible for me to see in the short-term. As far as a long-term bucket list, that's way too hard.

Btw, my favorite bird family is Parulidae as well (you can probably tell from my list)
Parulidae is my favorite group to, and honestly spring migration is my favorite time of year birding wise, just because it's so great to see all the warblers come through. The Fox Valley of Wisconsin also has some pretty great spring birding spots to.

I think Kirtland's Warbler was amongst the first 10 warbler species I ever saw, but that bird is easy when you grow up 2 hours from there core breeding range. Hopefully when things return to normal I can make another pilgrimage to see them.

Warbler-wise, Kentucky and Worm-eating are my biggest misses. They both breeding in Wisconsin (well Worm-eating is super rare and protected), and I tried my best, but dipped on both this spring. Still need Swainson's as well, but then I don't think I have actually spent time anywhere where they occur.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Having birded in Panama, I admit my interest in twitching ABA area vagrants, at least non-local ones, has definitely plummeted. I am a man of somewhat modest means, and its hard to justify spending 5,000 dollars or more on a trip to the Bering Sea for the chance at a handful of strays, when I can spend the same money on a much longer (and comfortable!) trip to East Asia, and get those same birds plus probably a hundred plus lifers. I still plan on birding Alaska at some point, but more for the auklets, arctic ducks, and other native birds.
That sounds about my position too, I will chase a local vagrant, but I can't even imagine myself chasing vagrants on a state level. But international birding or at least birding somewhere that gives me lots of lifers and new experiences is definitely something that appeals much more than spending my income and limited PTO to go birding somewhere that will not even give me a guaranteed chance for a lifer (because that's how vagrants are), I've seen birders come from California or Alaska for one day to find (and dip) on a Loggerhead Kingbird or a White-cheeked Pintail, when they could have just made a weekend trip to Bahamas for like an hour more of flight time and gotten those plus a dozen more lifers. But everyone has their tastes, and I know in the US there's a lot of hardcore listers within the ABA US borders, so who am I to judge, after all I'm spending the same amount of money but to go to other parts of the world.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Parulidae is my favorite group to, and honestly spring migration is my favorite time of year birding wise, just because it's so great to see all the warblers come through. The Fox Valley of Wisconsin also has some pretty great spring birding spots to.

I think Kirtland's Warbler was amongst the first 10 warbler species I ever saw, but that bird is easy when you grow up 2 hours from there core breeding range. Hopefully when things return to normal I can make another pilgrimage to see them.

Warbler-wise, Kentucky and Worm-eating are my biggest misses. They both breeding in Wisconsin (well Worm-eating is super rare and protected), and I tried my best, but dipped on both this spring. Still need Swainson's as well, but then I don't think I have actually spent time anywhere where they occur.
If you're fine with making a trip down to South Florida, the first 2 weeks of September are almost guaranteed to see at least one Swainson's and Kentucky Warbler, along with a few dozen Worm-eating Warblers.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
If you're fine with making a trip down to South Florida, the first 2 weeks of September are almost guaranteed to see at least one Swainson's and Kentucky Warbler, along with a few dozen Worm-eating Warblers.
Sadly, as a college professor those weeks usually are the start of a new semester, and so impossible to take off.

I will be potentially in South Florida in December for a conference. Hoping to connect with some local birds I still need for my ABA list (Gray-headed Swamphen, King Rail, some other South Florida specialities). I know I said I don't find it appealing to twitch long distance, but certainly if I have to be someplace for work I might as well grow my life list while I am at it!
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
That sounds about my position too, I will chase a local vagrant, but I can't even imagine myself chasing vagrants on a state level. But international birding or at least birding somewhere that gives me lots of lifers and new experiences is definitely something that appeals much more than spending my income and limited PTO to go birding somewhere that will not even give me a guaranteed chance for a lifer (because that's how vagrants are), I've seen birders come from California or Alaska for one day to find (and dip) on a Loggerhead Kingbird or a White-cheeked Pintail, when they could have just made a weekend trip to Bahamas for like an hour more of flight time and gotten those plus a dozen more lifers. But everyone has their tastes, and I know in the US there's a lot of hardcore listers within the ABA US borders, so who am I to judge, after all I'm spending the same amount of money but to go to other parts of the world.
I would chase something at the state level if it was just a genuinely difficult bird to see anywhere. I certainly would consider hopping in a car for a weekend drive for something like an Ivory Gull!
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
I would chase something at the state level if it was just a genuinely difficult bird to see anywhere. I certainly would consider hopping in a car for a weekend drive for something like an Ivory Gull!
When you go for hard to find megas that's for sure, doubt I'll ever see an Ivory Gull down here, but not sure when I'll get the chance to see such a beautiful gull.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Sadly, as a college professor those weeks usually are the start of a new semester, and so impossible to take off.

I will be potentially in South Florida in December for a conference. Hoping to connect with some local birds I still need for my ABA list (Gray-headed Swamphen, King Rail, some other South Florida specialities). I know I said I don't find it appealing to twitch long distance, but certainly if I have to be someplace for work I might as well grow my life list while I am at it!
Swamphen and Rail are both likely (if not guaranteed in the right locations) in South Florida from November to March, but chances of seeing (not just hearing) the King Rail are slim unless you spend a few mornings driving around the agricultural fields and marshlands in West Palm Beach (which is almost Central Florida). The Swamphens (along with most of the other exotics), can honestly be seen in one day driving around Miami if you pick your places right.

If you need help finding some of them or want someone to show you around, let me know, I participate or guide walks with my local Audubon chapter almost every week and know where to find the targets.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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