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Which Birds Could Lure You Around the World?

By Hugh Powell
Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal on ocotillo. Photo by Ned Harris.

A recent article in Living Bird magazine posed the above question. In author Mel White’s case there were two frontrunners: the Andean Cock-of-the-rock, which tends to jump onto the list of anyone who’s ever seen a picture of one, and the much more obscure Bornean Bristlehead. White tells the story of how he was lucky enough to actually see both these species during his travels.

It left me wondering what birds are on your own most-wanted lists. I probably get a new one each time I look into a new field guide. You can probably track the places I lived as a child by the sequence: Hoopoe, Varied Bunting, White-tailed Tropicbird, Turquoise Cotinga, Black-backed Woodpecker, Black-footed Albatross, Hoary Redpoll, Adélie Penguin, are among the birds I’ve daydreamed about. Oh here’s a copy of Birds of Peru, hang on a minute…

So what’s a cardinal doing at the top of a post about the lure of the exotic? Well, as White notes, “if the Northern Cardinal were found only in a truly remote, hard-to-get-to spot—say, up some obscure tributary of the Xingu—it would be one of the world’s most sought-after birds.” There’s nothing wrong with putting more familiar birds on your list, either.

So tell us, what is your most sought-after bird?

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library