Monday, May 01, 2006

Most Beautiful Birds Meme

John at A DC Birding Blog, encouraged by Nuthatch of Bootstrap Analysis, created this meme, as follows:
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.

I've been following its progress through the blogosphere, enjoying the diverse lists, and the reasoning behind them, thinking about birds and beauty. Then this morning I discovered that Troutgrrrl at Science and Sarcasm has tagged me. So the time for thought is over: my 10 most beautiful birds.

Well, a little more thought is required. Since being tagged I've been composing lists in my head, and seeing birds in the yard, and dropping and adding. I left a comment at Science and Sarcasm this morning remarking that the only ugly bird I could think of was a bird I've never seen in life, the Marabou stork. Doing so put this bird in my head all day--and my position is softening. Ugly? No, quite a striking bird really, once you stop and think about it. I won't list it though--I've decided to only list birds I've seen in my region. And I've listed only one member of any family or group. When I began to think about who to include I found my mind drifting from one family member to another: the eastern kingbird is fine looking bird, but I like the great-crested flycatcher, must choose at most one Tyrant flycatcher.

1)common yellowthroat*
I spent a lot of time last year observing this bird. It's striking looking, but it's also of good character--a vigilant parent and mate, hard-working and energetic.

2)great-crested flycatcher*
Handsome bird, nice emphatic call, good to have around.

3)great blue heron*
Majestic, elegant, and on my mind because I heard one call the other night as it flew over, a first for me.

4)northern harrier*
The raptors have their own fierce beauty. Lots to choose from, I chose the harrier today because it's only a few days since one flew right by the house, just a few feet away as I watched through the back window. Magnificent.

5)pileated woodpecker*
Always a treat to see this beautiful bird--I saw a pair fly through the cedar bush just last week.

6)white-throated sparrow*
I couldn't think of a sparrow for this list. Then a white-throated sparrow landed in a tree just above my head today and it took my breath away. Perfect combination of greys on the breast, just the right dash of yellow, and the white stripes topping it off.

7)barred owl*
Owls are beautiful--I've never seen an owl, in a picture or in life, that I didn't like. I chose the barred owl because I love its call and I've seen it most often.

8)barn swallow*
Of the familiar swallows in my life, the most beautiful. I love the colours of this bird, the shape, and the voice.

9)cedar waxwing*
Pretty bird, smooth elegance, cheerful and friendly in its flock.

10)brown-headed cowbird*
The smooth black, the rich brown of the male, combined with the sweet song, lovely. Yes, the much vilified cowbird. Vilified because somehow their brood parasite breeding style strikes human beings as inherently immoral, and also because our fracturing of forest habitat all over the place has exposed birds to them who have few or no defences against them. The cowbird is on my mind because I saw a pair mating a few days ago which got me wondering about how they manage their difficult lifestyle--at least how she manages. The female of the pair I saw first called until a male came along so that she could mate. And it got me wondering: does she find a nest first? Or is she confident that she'll find one in time for her egg or eggs?

So, there are the ten: all birds that have been on my mind lately for one reason or another. As Trougrrrl remarked of her own list, another day would've produced a different list.

Tag 3? Home Bird Notes, Rurality and Sand Creek Almanac.


Dave Dorsey said...

I agree. If we make the list out again tomorrow, it would be a lot different. and then again the next day.

TroutGrrrl said...

Hey Pamela, great choices. I felt a bit wierd not listing the northern harrier and cedar waxwing, so I'm glad you got them...a list of 10 is just not enough...

Endment said...

as always a thoughtful and well considered post. you have helped me to think even more about the wonderful birds that surround us.
and yes- I would make a different list tomorrow...:)

Deb said...

A brown headed cowbird! Who woulda thunk it? I'm glad you included it, as a reminder to examine my birding prejudices. They do have a lovely song.

Off to work on my list...

Anonymous said...

I like your inclusion of the brown-headed cowbird. I just saw my first cowbirds of the year and they are gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

Very nice Pamela, I like the unconventional choice of the cowbird. There is beauty in all birds, indeed in all of life. I'm enjoying following this meme.

Anonymous said...

Northern Harrier was an also-ran for me, too. The males are spectacular. And kudos for listing the cowbird. They don't get enough love.