Which Birds Could Lure You Around the World?

By Hugh Powell
February 18, 2010
Northern Cardinal Northern Cardinal on ocotillo. Photo by Ned Harris.
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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?


  • Hugh

    How successful have I been in seeing the birds on that list in my post? So-so. In sequence, that would be No, Yes, No, Yes, Yes, Yes, No, Yes. My fondest recent success was Xantus’ Hummingbird, a Baja oddity that became real to me as it snatched insects from a sunbeam in a place called Cañon de la Zorra.

  • My greatest birder’s dream-come-true was going to Australia and increasing my Life List by a whopping 125 new birds! I did stay there seven years so I had plenty of time and opportunity to visit all but a few myriad habitats found in that great land.

    Now I’m back in Canada with hundreds of photos to catalogue and display.

    I think it’s time I started a new blog!

  • Hugh

    wow.. Australia. Did any birds particularly stand out for you? Cassowaries and kookaburras would be up there for me. I’ve never been to Australia, but I did visit New Zealand. Their two big parrots, kea and kaka, were great thrills for me to see. Thanks for writing.

  • Kim

    I long to see the chestnut backed chickadee and boreal chickadee. Nothing exotic. But I really want to see them. Maybe someday that is where my travels (which aren’t many) will take me.

  • valerie

    I would love to see male Mannakins in South America doing their dances!

  • Laura

    My most yearned-for bird is the Cuban Tody. Talk about adorable!! (Google “Most adorable bird in the universe” if you don’t believe me.)

Which Birds Could Lure You Around the World?