Wednesday 25 March 2009

Nice idea

Gunnar Engblom of Birding Peru came up with what I think is a neat idea, to write a book on the "1,000 birds to see before you die".
As the choice of species is a rather subjective matter, he's asking other birders to help him out by submitting their top 100 here.
What I find very interesting is Gunnar's intention of producing the book as a free e-book or to eventually use it to raise money for species in peril in cooperation with Birdlife International.

Sounds like it is not only a fun thing to do after all but something that might eventually make a difference.

Here is my top 100 list for those interested (no need to scroll down otherwise).
Frankly, choosing the top 100 from roughly 10,000 species was a bit hard since I sadly don't have field experiences with all the bird species in the world (working on it though). I also didn't have the time or literature to go through pictures of all the world's birds, so my choice is based on
a) what I have either seen already or at least know about from my travels or
b) on birds that are so prominent in one way or another that I have heard of them without specific search, sort of by simply being interested in birds, reading blogs, magazines, owning general birding books and other comparable coincidences.

Furthermore, I always tried to keep in mind the "see before you die" aspect, so I think the species must be very peculiar and unique. Therefore, I have not chosen a hummingbird, a trogon, a kiwi, a sunbird or any member of other flashy and colourful bird groups from the tropics (yes, I know the kiwis are neither colourful nor tropical, but it makes the sentence easier to read that way):
I think everyone ought to see at least one hummer and one species of kiwi before they leave for good, but which one they see seems less important from the perspective of mortality. So none of the species in the groups mentioned made the top 100, although each group as a whole surely would have achieved a very high ranking on my list.

Well, another little snag I hit:
I have two favourite birds, the Bearded Vulture as a firm and eternal No. 1 (yeah, pittas, even if I ever lay eyes on one of you ... not a chance, hear me, not - a - chance!) and the New Zealand Fantail a firm and eternal yet very close No. 2 (possibly along with other species of fantail if I ever get to see them).
For the rest of the top 100, the rating was done without giving it too much thought. A little thought was put in it, of course, or else the whole thing would be pointless. Still, any questions on why I rated species X three times higher than species Z is likely to remain unanswered if you expect more than a "just because" from me.

For the spoonbilled sandpiper and quite a few others on the list, the question should sadly be "rate the top 100 species you'd like to see before they die", but if this whole book idea does work out and money is raised for Birdlife International, we might still turn the tides.

Anyway, that's the way the cooky crumbles and here's the list. Species in red are the ones I have already seen (adding that little showing-off element to the whole business of rating your top 100), species in black would be very nice lifers.

100 Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus
99 New Zealand Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa

98 Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa
97 Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans
96 Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis

95 Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea
94 Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus
93 Northern Raven Corvus corax
92 Ross’s Gull Rhodostethia rosea
91 White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
90 Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno
89 Ostrich Struthio camelus
88 King Eider Somateria spectabilis

87 Andean Condor Vultur gryphus
86 Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus
85 Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi
84 Harpy Eagle Harpia harpyja
83 Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii
82 Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus

81 Spinifex Pigeon Geophaps plumifera
80 Gurney's Pitta Pitta gurneyi
79 Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata
78 Shoebill Balaeniceps rex
77 Ruff Philomachus pugnax
76 Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber
75 Smew Mergellus albellus
74 Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica

73 Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
72 Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus
71 Kea Nestor notabilis
70 Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
69 Superb Fairywren Malurus cyaneus
68 Dupont's Lark Chersophilus duponti
67 Azure Tit Cyanistes cyanus
66 Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
65 Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
64 Green Jay Cyanocorax yncas
63 Crimson-breasted Shrike Laniarius atrococcineus
62 Ocellated Turkey Meleagris ocellata
61 Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
60 Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah Vidua obtusa
59 Evening Grosbeak Coccothraustes vespertinus
58 Black Bee-eater Merops gularis
57 Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca
56 Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius
55 Black Lark Melanocorypha yeltoniensis
54 Mute Swan Cygnus olor
53 Kagu Rhynochetos jubatus
52 Hoatzin Opisthocomus hoazin
51 Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
50 Wrybill Anarhynchus frontalis
49 Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

48 White Tern Gygis alba
47 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata
46 European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
45 Yellow-billed Loon Gavia adamsii
44 Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides
43 Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis
42 Varied Thrush Ixoreus naevius
41 Gyrfalcon Falco rusticolus
40 Connecticut Warbler Oporornis agilis
39 Kentucky Warbler Oporornis formosus
38 African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris
37 Steller's Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus
36 Lyre-tailed Nightjar Uropsalis lyra
35 Sunbittern Eurypyga helias
34 Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus
33 Superb Lyrebird Menura novaehollandiae
32 Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix
31 Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius
30 Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla
29 Pied Thrush Zoothera wardii
28 Painted Bunting Passerina ciris
27 Blue Crane Athropoides paradiseus
26 Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca
25 Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera
24 Northern Parula Parula americana
23 Black-throated Blue Warbler Dendroica caerulescens
22 Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
21 African Finfoot Podica senegalensis
20 Flightless Cormorant Phalacrocorax harrisi
19 Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
18 House Sparrow Passer domesticus
17 Locust Finch Paludipasser locustella
16 Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
15 Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
14 Royal Spoonbill Platelea regia
13 Great Bustard Otis tarda
12 Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
11 Grey-necked Rockfowl Picathartes oreas
10 Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
9 Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus
8 Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa
7 Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea
6 Gray's Lark Ammomanopsis grayi
5 Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi
4 Budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus
3 White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi
2 Black Harrier Circus maurus
1 Christmas Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi


John B. said...

BirdLife already wrote "the top 100 species you'd like to see before they die," so no need to worry about writing that one. Sadly I think a few may have already been dead when the book was written.

I'm working on my own list for Kolibrix, and I'll have it done when I figure out whether there are any birds I want to see in families about which I know nothing.

Jochen said...

Really, such a sad book has already been written?
Gosh, imagine the frustration the authors must have felt during the writing process.

I'd really like to see your list when you're done. You see, that family issue bothered me quite a bit. Of course every birder should see a flamingo of some sort, an Asian hornbill, a penguin, hummingbird etc. So of course I scanned those families for species "worth" being mentioned on the top 100. But as I wrote, I found it incredibly difficult (or rather impossible) to chose ONE species out of the lot that was so special it stood out. If I'd know more about hummers (I have only ever seen Ruby-throateds), I might have a clear favourite hummer, but with things being as they are...
Well, you read the story, you know what I mean.

Cheers, John, and happy birding!

Laurent said...

House sparrow?

Jochen said...

Yes, House Sparrow!
Would you - as a birder - want to leave this planet without having seen a HOUSE SPARROW?

Would you leave Paris without having seen the Tour Eiffel?

Just imagine wandering the wide spaces of whatever comes after death, and seeing a small group of birders, amongst them Audubon, Wilson, and even Darwin.
Of course you'd like to team up with them and chat with Audubon about Ivory-bills and the great outdoors back then and have a few questions on natural selection you always wanted to ask Darwin, but as you approach you hear Wilson whisper to the lot:
"Geez, let's move on quickly, there comes the guy who hasn't even seen a House Sparrow, yet still dares to call himself a "birder" - just imagine!"

Nate said...

I you ever find yourself on this side of the Atlantic again, I'll get you that Painted Bunting...

Jochen said...

Oh, Nate, won't you get me a vagrant Spoonbilled Sandpiper in NC?

Nate said...

If it gets you over here, I'm gonna say yes. But I'm not going to feel guilty if we miss it.

Gunnar Engblom said...

Jochen, thanks for posting about the idea on your blog. John, looking forward for your list. I realized afterwards as someone pointed out that the book on 100 birds already has been done. However, the idea has been out there for even longer. Don Robertson has had on his web-page, his top 50 birds of the world. The idea is basically the same, but concentrating on only 50 birds. The book with 100 birds has Ivory-billed Woodpecker as nr 1, which is automatically disqualified in my thinking.
I guess the big difference are:
1. 1000 birds, is a better lifelong bucket list than 100 in my opinion.
2. The list is put together with a community of birders on all continents.
3. The book will be free of charge, which should have a larger appeal to birders than its predecessor.
4. There will be a way to raise money for birdlife international.
5. There will be a representative species for every bird family in the world.
6. Most Critically (and probably the lion share of Endangered) threatened species will be included

Don't know about house sparrow though. Maybe I should do also a second book "1000 trashbirds you can't avoid seeing, while on the hunt for 1000 must-see-birds before you die". ;-)

Mel said...

I think the idea of the book is good, especially the free of charge part... lol
Won't make a list though, I don't think I even KNOW about 1,000 birds yet!

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