• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Top 10 Birds of 2020 (1 Viewer)

lgonz1008

Well-known member
Let's be honest, saying 2020 was a bad year it's like saying the sun is a star, we know it already, so let's move along. But it's always good to think of the positives even in the worst of times, one positive for me was adding a total of 15 species to my Florida life list which brought me to the milestone of 300 species in my home state (more on the later). But with all of these birds were the best experiences for me? I figured I'd make a list of the best birds I saw this year and I encourage everyone to do the same, if nothing else it would be a great sendoff to the year and maybe this list will be changed in the second half of the month, who knows?

One rule I put myself was that every bird in my top 10 needed to be photographed so that everyone can see my attempts on remembering some of the best moments of the year for me personally.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Least Bittern
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Gold-winged Warbler
  • Black-faced Grassquit
Enough delay, here is the actual list with the reason included:
10. Eastern Bluebird (First time I photographed the species and it was the last Bluebird I needed to photograph)​
10 Eastern Bluebird.jpg
09. Cuban Pewee (Only sighting I had of this bird before was in the Bahamas, far away and in the rain)​
9 Cuban Pewee.jpg
08. Wood Duck (Seen before, but usually far away and never 100% sure they were wild birds)​
8 Wood Duck.jpg
07. Eastern Towhee (One of my favorite sparrows and it was amazing having a family of 5 at eye level less than 10 feet away from me!)​
7 Eastern Towhee.jpg
06. Olive-sided Flycatcher (First record of this species for my county, best showing record for Florida and I was able to see it very easily)​
6 OS Flycatcher.jpg
05. Greater Scaup (Last lifer of the year, Golden-winged Warbler would be here if it wasn't that the photos for it are nonexistent)​
5 Greater Scaup.jpg
04. Florida Scrub-Jay (Top 5 birds I have in my life list, so it's hard to not have it somewhere)​
4 FS Jay.jpg
03. Common Hill Myna (One of the best exotics I saw this year and it was nice seeing this established bird that's sadly on it's way out in the region)​
3 Hill Myna.jpg
02. Bullock's Oriole (300th Florida State Bird for me! Just saw it this morning and it made me very glad I waited until now to make this list)​
2 Bullock Oriole.jpg
01. Northern Bobwhite (Hard to beat the 300 milestone, but having only seen the bird before in the same conditions as the Cuban Pewee in Bahamas, having a chance of seeing a pair of them for 10-20 minutes next to my car and getting amazing shots, it was my clear best bird of the year since July)​
1 Northern Bobwhite.jpg
Hope to know what everyone's picks are for 2020 and here's to better birding in 2021!​
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
Good for you!

I lived in Florida for 3 years and never laid eyes on a Olive-sided Flycatcher could you ask it to come a bit further north ;)
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I was about and traveling pre-pandemia, then stuck in California for nearly 4 months, then finally made it back to Argentina. I made one domestic trip here in Argentina just recently as inter-provincial travel has been allowed again and as contagion rates have fallen quite a bit. All in all, I ended up with a good year of birding, even if one trip got super messy and was cut short and two others cancelled. I scraped up 855 species so far - not likely to add any more here in the last two weeks. I did a ton of local birding and added a lot of birds to my Buenos Aires list (which is still not terribly impressive).

My 10 birds of the year, totally subjective, not all rare, not all new for me:

Any of the 4 Kiwi species I saw (can't really pick one here)
Fjordland Penguin
Montezuma Quail
Horned Coot
Wrybill
Providence Petrel
Burrowing Parrot
Short-tailed Finch
Black-capped Vireo
Red-faced Warbler
 

foresttwitcher

Virtually unknown member
United Kingdom
The only birding I have done in 2020, apart from at home, on dog walks & whilst at work, was on a trip of a lifetime to Japan for the second half of February. So my top 10 is inevitably 100% biased to the latter (in no particular order, apart from the first two monsters):

1. Steller's Eagle
2. Blackiston's Fish Owl
3. Red-crowned Crane
4. Hooded Crane
5. White-naped Crane
6. Laysan Albatross
7. Black-footed Albatross
8. Short-toed Albatross
9. Japanese Waxwing
10. Japanese Grosbeak
 

RafaelMatias

Unknown member
Portugal
The only birding I have done in 2020, apart from at home, on dog walks & whilst at work, was on a trip of a lifetime to Japan for the second half of February. So my top 10 is inevitably 100% biased to the latter (in no particular order, apart from the first two monsters):

1. Steller's Eagle
2. Blackiston's Fish Owl
3. Red-crowned Crane
4. Hooded Crane
5. White-naped Crane
6. Laysan Albatross
7. Black-footed Albatross
8. Short-toed Albatross
9. Japanese Waxwing
10. Japanese Grosbeak
A great selection! I'd say that #8, Short-tailed Albatross, is up there with the first 2, at least for me!
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
The only birding I have done in 2020, apart from at home, on dog walks & whilst at work, was on a trip of a lifetime to Japan for the second half of February. So my top 10 is inevitably 100% biased to the latter (in no particular order, apart from the first two monsters):

1. Steller's Eagle
2. Blackiston's Fish Owl
3. Red-crowned Crane
4. Hooded Crane
5. White-naped Crane
6. Laysan Albatross
7. Black-footed Albatross
8. Short-toed Albatross
9. Japanese Waxwing
10. Japanese Grosbeak
Were you following me or did I follow you? However, I had disappointing views of the last-named so would substitute it with Fork-tailed Storm Petrel. I'd also probably substitute 4 & 5 with Demoiselle Crane & Oriental Stork. That would still leave Ancient & Japanese Murrelet, Dusky Thrush and much else undeservedly left out in the wilderness. Then there's my trip at the start of the year to Cape York .....
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
The only birding I have done in 2020, apart from at home, on dog walks & whilst at work, was on a trip of a lifetime to Japan for the second half of February. So my top 10 is inevitably 100% biased to the latter (in no particular order, apart from the first two monsters):

1. Steller's Eagle
2. Blackiston's Fish Owl
3. Red-crowned Crane
4. Hooded Crane
5. White-naped Crane
6. Laysan Albatross
7. Black-footed Albatross
8. Short-toed Albatross
9. Japanese Waxwing
10. Japanese Grosbeak
This is the legendary trip to Hokkaido that every birder should have, even without Covid, I'd say most of these amazing birds would have made your top 10!
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
I was about and traveling pre-pandemia, then stuck in California for nearly 4 months, then finally made it back to Argentina. I made one domestic trip here in Argentina just recently as inter-provincial travel has been allowed again and as contagion rates have fallen quite a bit. All in all, I ended up with a good year of birding, even if one trip got super messy and was cut short and two others cancelled. I scraped up 855 species so far - not likely to add any more here in the last two weeks. I did a ton of local birding and added a lot of birds to my Buenos Aires list (which is still not terribly impressive).

My 10 birds of the year, totally subjective, not all rare, not all new for me:

Any of the 4 Kiwi species I saw (can't really pick one here)
Fjordland Penguin
Montezuma Quail
Horned Coot
Wrybill
Providence Petrel
Burrowing Parrot
Short-tailed Finch
Black-capped Vireo
Red-faced Warbler
Even if subjective, getting to see Montezuma Quail, Burrowing Parrot, a penguin and kiwis all in the same year, is clear proof of a great experience!
 

wheatearlp

Well-known member
England
Very little birding done this year, so finding 10 species might be a stretch as I've only been birding out of the county three times! A trip to Norfolk in January gave me my number two, the South Yorkshire moors was no. 1 and a trip to Steart for the breeding Black-winged Stilts.

1. Bearded Vulture - lifer... maybe 😉, but impressive anyway
2. Eastern Yellow Wagtail - lifer
3. Red-flanked Bluetail - county tick
4. Glaucous Gull - self-found local patch-tick, first for 48 years!
5. Cattle Egret - local patch-tick
6. Rough-legged Buzzard - 3rd in UK
7. Black-winged Stilt - nice to see one of the chicks
8. Waxwing - my first in the county for 4-5 years
9. Snow Bunting - just nice to see 30+ flock
10. Smew - first full male in the county

I've probably forgotten something, but it's not likely to improve the above list!
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
Very little birding done this year, so finding 10 species might be a stretch as I've only been birding out of the county three times! A trip to Norfolk in January gave me my number two, the South Yorkshire moors was no. 1 and a trip to Steart for the breeding Black-winged Stilts.

1. Bearded Vulture - lifer... maybe 😉, but impressive anyway
2. Eastern Yellow Wagtail - lifer
3. Red-flanked Bluetail - county tick
4. Glaucous Gull - self-found local patch-tick, first for 48 years!
5. Cattle Egret - local patch-tick
6. Rough-legged Buzzard - 3rd in UK
7. Black-winged Stilt - nice to see one of the chicks
8. Waxwing - my first in the county for 4-5 years
9. Snow Bunting - just nice to see 30+ flock
10. Smew - first full male in the county

I've probably forgotten something, but it's not likely to improve the above list!
This is the year that makes us thankful for what we have close to home and I think anyone would be very happy to have a Lammergeier and a male Smew in their home county!
 

david kelly

Drive-by Birder
No trips abroad, so only in Scotland and apart from two days Perthshire all Lothian. Also got a puppy in October and moved house so the last three months birding hasn’t been a priority.

1. Broad-billed Sandpiper, lifer!
2. Terek Sandpiper Lothian and patch tick, 3rd UK bird for me
3. Lesser Grey Shrike, Lothian tick 2nd UK bird for me
4. Reed Warbler, patch tick
5. Little Egret, patch tick
6. Goshawk, 2nd bird on patch the previous one was last century
7. Long-tailed Skua, my first for years and shared with a friend who saw it before me and put me on to it.
8. Gadwall, the first breeding record for my patch (second too)
9. Crossbill, patch tick
10. Avocet, pair on the patch, seen a few before but stI’ll a good bird in Lothian

downsides of this year have been the selfish numpties, young and old, who invaded all our sites to drink, disturb the birds, camp and dump and walk unleashed, out of control dogs.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
I will be forever thankful that we had a holiday in Gambia in January before the madness began: and that the rules remained just sufficiently relaxed to allow our regular autumn Shetland sojourn to go ahead.

I like the idea of putting forward ten photographed birds - at the same time as it limits you to what you did point a camera at, it makes you pick out the best pictures and not just the biggest rarities. I hope.

Anyway, mine are in chronological order, because these don't deserve ranking, they were all awesome in their own way.

John

In Gambia:

Beautiful Sunbird (self explanatory!)

20200108 (14)_Beautiful_Sunbird.JPG

Male Standard-winged Nightjar with a full set

20200108 (42)_Standard-winged_Nightjar.JPG

Egyptian Plover - probably the best wader in the world (discuss!)


20200111 (27)_Egyptian_Plover.JPG
Northern Carmine Bee-eater (I'd missed this or its Southern equivalent various places - at last!)

20200112 (62)_Northern_Carmine_Bee-eater.JPG

Back here:

Colin the Cuckoo at Thursley. What can I say: his sixth season at the Parish field and a sheer delight: think of that, six times up and down to Africa, returning to the same place to find the same birders waiting.... fantastic.

20200527 (28)_Cuckoo.JPG
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
And the other half.

Lammergeier (just an amazing thing to watch, well worth the long hike.)

20200714 (12)_Lammergeier.JPG

Tennessee Warbler (yes all right it was a tick. But its a smart bird and it crossed the Atlantic.)

20201004 (12)_Tennessee_Warbler.JPG

Lanceolated Warbler. I found it with Roy: it was just chance it was on my side of the wall. We'd already had White's Thrush in the morning. Cracking day out!

20201002 (19)_Lanceolated_Warbler.JPG

Wilson's Phalarope. There's confiding and there's birds like this.... down to six feet or less, totally unbothered. What a privilege.

20201013 (16)_Wilsons_Phalarope.JPG

Rufous Bushchat. Second bird of a two-tick day, a bird from legend!

20201017 (18)_Rufous_Bushchat.JPG

I like the new uploading system as well. New BF is OK by me.

John
 

Nightjar61

David Daniels
United States
I’ve divided my top ten birds of the year between birds seen in Mexico and Preston County, West Virginia.

In March I went to Oaxaca, Mexico where I picked up 44 lifers. It was hard to choose, but the top five from that trip are as follows:

Fulvous Owl
Rufous-backed Thrush
Red Warbler
Red-headed Tanager
Orange-breasted Bunting

I saw six Preston County lifers this year. The top five of those were:

Long-eared Owl
Evening Grosbeak
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Dickcissel

All except the Long-eared Owl were self-found and the Yellow-headed Blackbird was the first county record.

Dave
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
And the other half.

Lammergeier (just an amazing thing to watch, well worth the long hike.)

View attachment 1358955

Tennessee Warbler (yes all right it was a tick. But its a smart bird and it crossed the Atlantic.)

View attachment 1358956

Lanceolated Warbler. I found it with Roy: it was just chance it was on my side of the wall. We'd already had White's Thrush in the morning. Cracking day out!

View attachment 1358957

Wilson's Phalarope. There's confiding and there's birds like this.... down to six feet or less, totally unbothered. What a privilege.

View attachment 1358958

Rufous Bushchat. Second bird of a two-tick day, a bird from legend!

View attachment 1358959

I like the new uploading system as well. New BF is OK by me.

John
Beautiful shots of great birds, I'd argue for the wader title for the Egyptian Plover but can't think of one at the moment! The Wilson's Phalarope experience is something I got myself too with my lifer bird, we were birding in the central part of Oregon from the road and while enjoying the hundreds of shorebirds, ducks and blackbirds on one side, I turned to see what the other side of the road provided and it was a male Wilson's Phalarope less than 5 feet from us!
 
  • Like
Reactions: mtn

lgonz1008

Well-known member
I’ve divided my top ten birds of the year between birds seen in Mexico and Preston County, West Virginia.

In March I went to Oaxaca, Mexico where I picked up 44 lifers. It was hard to choose, but the top five from that trip are as follows:

Fulvous Owl
Rufous-backed Thrush
Red Warbler
Red-headed Tanager
Orange-breasted Bunting

I saw six Preston County lifers this year. The top five of those were:

Long-eared Owl
Evening Grosbeak
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Dickcissel

All except the Long-eared Owl were self-found and the Yellow-headed Blackbird was the first county record.

Dave
Great lifers from Mexico and having multiple self-found lifers is always a plus in your home county, took me years to get my first rarity lifer on my own and even then, it wasn't something I realized until someone else pointed it out to me.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Well Like everyone else here, I was pretty much stuck in my home state (Wisconsin), and confined to a few hours drive around me. I did however have a conference in Austin, Texas in January, so did get a few birds from elsewhere.

Accomplishments for this year was topping 200 species on my Wisconsin list finally, despite living here for four years work has kept me from birding. I was also able to discover some new birding sites, visiting Manitowoc on Lake Michigan twice as well as birding Madison for the first time. I also got serious about ebirding and keeping a county list.

My top ten birds this year would be the following

Wisconsin rarities
Spotted Towhee
White-winged Dove (self-found)
Brant
Tufted Duck (first state record and an ABA bird)

I also managed one lifer bird despite the limitations

Lifer
Connecticut Warbler

Other birds that were just cool to see, either locally or in Texas
Eastern Screech-Owl
Short-eared Owl
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Least Grebe
Whooping Crane

Honorable mentions to Monk Parakeet, Bohemian Waxwing, and Common Redpoll
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
The only birding I have done in 2020, apart from at home, on dog walks & whilst at work, was on a trip of a lifetime to Japan for the second half of February. So my top 10 is inevitably 100% biased to the latter (in no particular order, apart from the first two monsters):

1. Steller's Eagle
2. Blackiston's Fish Owl
3. Red-crowned Crane
4. Hooded Crane
5. White-naped Crane
6. Laysan Albatross
7. Black-footed Albatross
8. Short-toed Albatross
9. Japanese Waxwing
10. Japanese Grosbeak

Lovely list! A winter Hokkaido trip is one of my most highly anticipated outings in the next few years, I've been wanting to do this trip for a long time, and I think we're about due. I had several albatrosses I wanted to add to my list, but with only 10 spots I didn't put one in. I should have. Albatrosses are like the Burrowing Parrots for me... doesn't matter how many times I see them, they are just awesome.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Even if subjective, getting to see Montezuma Quail, Burrowing Parrot, a penguin and kiwis all in the same year, is clear proof of a great experience!

Indeed! Montezuma Quail was a long awaited lifer and I finally found a cooperative pair that crossed the road in front of me then stayed very visible in short grass just on the verge for several minutes at dusk. It was an awesome experience and one of my birding highlights for the year, although I still chuckle about the fact that I saw Ocellated Quail 7(!) years before I saw Montezuma Quail :)

And yes, Burrowing Parrots, Penguins.... they're like Albatrosses, Macaws, Petrels, Kittiwakes, Bustards... It doesn't matter how often you see them, they're always awesome. I've seen thousands of Burrowing Parrots but every time I see them I stop and watch and enjoy their raucous antics. I love the improbability of dry desert washes and crumbly sandstone cliffs being full of colorful, borderline obnoxious, very character-laden parrots.
 

raymie

Well-known member
United States
Well Like everyone else here, I was pretty much stuck in my home state (Wisconsin), and confined to a few hours drive around me. I did however have a conference in Austin, Texas in January, so did get a few birds from elsewhere.

Accomplishments for this year was topping 200 species on my Wisconsin list finally, despite living here for four years work has kept me from birding. I was also able to discover some new birding sites, visiting Manitowoc on Lake Michigan twice as well as birding Madison for the first time. I also got serious about ebirding and keeping a county list.

My top ten birds this year would be the following

Wisconsin rarities
Spotted Towhee
White-winged Dove (self-found)
Brant
Tufted Duck (first state record and an ABA bird)

I also managed one lifer bird despite the limitations

Lifer
Connecticut Warbler

Other birds that were just cool to see, either locally or in Texas
Eastern Screech-Owl
Short-eared Owl
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Least Grebe
Whooping Crane

Honorable mentions to Monk Parakeet, Bohemian Waxwing, and Common Redpoll
That was actually the second record of Tufted Duck in WI.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top