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The 5 toughest birds and what is your biggest nemesis bird?

What are the 5 toughest birds in your state/province, country or region? And what is your biggest nemesis bird?

Interactive blog started by Chris Lotz but which will be added to by other birders as we receive comments by e-mail or social media.

This blog will start as an extremely brief one, but will hopefully get increasingly extensive with your input. If you e-mail us (info@birdingecotours.com) and tell us what the most difficult of the regularly occurring (i.e. non-vagrant) birds are in your area, then we’ll add them to this article. Please do also send photos if you have them, which we can include with acknowledgement if extremely good.

Here is my pick of the birds I found most difficult to find even when I was guiding extensively, when I was living in southern Africa:

White-winged Flufftail

Sharp-tailed Starling

Lesser Seedcracker

Striped Crake

Blue Quail

My nemesis bird for the region is Eurasian Bittern, which for the life of me I was never able to find in South Africa or Mozambique (I have heard it in South Africa, but I don’t count heard only birds, as per https://birdingecotours.com/do-you-tick-heard-only-birds/). I’ve seen this species in England and in India, but that’s not as good as seeing it “at home”!

July 5, 2018 update: folks started commenting on our Facebook page and here is a quick update on a few of the discussion points:

For the state of Ohio, Ben Warner needs to be given a medal for seemingly choosing the most difficult list: Long-tailed Jaeger, Swainson’s Hawk, Cave Swallow, Yellow Rail, Northern Goshawk. He has seen Swainson’s Hawk and finally a couple of Long-tailed Jaegers. The others are nemesis.

James Muller has to win a prize for the funniest response to Ben Warner’s choice of Ohio birds: “those are pretty ridiculous birds for Ohio” (but Ben rightly points out that they all do occur there, perhaps annually (but undetected).

There were a stack of other brilliant responses from Ohio, with good discussions – is someone willing to summarize the consensus? The Orange Sparrows, Kirtland’s Warbler and Connecticut Warbler featured high, as examples to add to Ben’s list.

Franklin County, Ohio, Ronnie Clark: Yellow-headed Blackbird, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Connecticut Warbler, American Avocet and Black Tern.

For Illinois, Greg Neise lists Black Rail, Yellow Rail, Swainson’s Warbler, Pomarine Jaeger, Gyrfalcon, Ben Sanders (Chicago) has Northern Saw-whet as one of his nemesis birds in this state.

Winnebago County, Illinois, Steve Gent mentions Northern Saw-whet Owl, Long-eared Owl, Least Bittern, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret and Yellow Rail. Habitat loss in the area means some birds are becoming more difficult.

New York, Josh Cantor Dovekie, Sabine’s Gull, Spruce Grouse, Tricolored Heron, White-faced Storm-Petrel. Nemesis: Black-headed Gull. Bill Fiero, also in New York, mentions Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Roseate Spoonbill as nemesis birds.

Michigan, Daryl Bernard: nemesis birds in Michigan are Boreal Chickadee and White-winged Crossbill, despite numerous trips to the Upper Peninsula.

Tracy Marr finally caught up with her nemesis Pileated Woodpecker in Michigan after struggling in New Jersey and Ohio.

Mississippi, Rynetta Coetzee nemesis, Short-eared Owl. “I’ve gone after it 4 times and my score is still 0…..”. Please come visit us in Columbus, Ohio in winter and we’ll show you one.

Australia – you’re going to struggle to better what David Harper has to say, but please do feel free to try:  ”there would be some debate about this but my top five would be Night Parrot, Western Ground Parrot, Buff-breasted Button Quail, Red Goshawk and arguably White-throated Grasswren. Sadly this species has undergone a rapid decline in recent years due to changed fire regimes and today its only available after a gruelling overnight trek”. Kathryn Godman reckons Glossy Black Cockatoo.

Waiting on Eduardo to tell us about Peru’s toughest 5 birds and his nemesis bird in that country.

And waiting for more responses from the UK.

And others’ thoughts on South Africa or southern Africa



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