A King by Brian Field.
THE TOP TEN BIRDING EXPERIENCES?
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Lists such as this one are of course highly subjective but these birds are the ones we believe are the best in the world. They have been chosen very carefully and for a multitude of reasons, but mainly based on personal experience of 87 of them and on dreams of seeing the rest, dreams resulting from what we have heard, read or seen.
They represent a mere 1% or so of the 10,000 or so birds of the world hence there are hundreds more which could have made this list, and just 76 of the 230 or so bird families are covered, with four hummingbirds and nine birds-of-paradise. Email us which birds you think should be on the list.
In most of the species accounts below there is some information about the bird and the best destinations in the world to look for it. To find out more about the birds listed here and read about other amazing birds see the great book Animal Records by Mark Carwardine, an updated reprint of which was published by the Natural History Museum, London, in 2010, and to find out more about the latest taxonomy concerning bird families and species see The Clements Checklist.
For other wildlife see Top 100 Other Wildlife.
Ostrich Struthio camelus
The largest bird in the world by far, reaching an average height of about 2 m (6.6 ft) and exceptionally 2.75 m (9 ft). It occurs in parts of Africa south of the Sahara. The best places in the world to see Ostrich include Ethiopia, Kenya, Northern Tanzania and Namibia. The blue-necked and blue-legged molybdophanes subspecies which occurs in Somalia, Ethiopia and eastern Kenya is sometimes considered to be a full species, known as Somali Ostrich and it can also be seen in Ethiopia (on the Ali Dege Plains near Bilen for example) and Kenya (in Samburu for example).
Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarias
This extraordinary creature occurs in New Guinea and Eastern Australia where the best places in the world to see a Southern Cassowary include the Mission Beach area in Queensland, Eastern Australia. There are two other species of cassowary, Dwarf and Northern, both of which occur on the island of New Guinea and both of which are very rarely seen.
Southern Brown Kiwi Apteryx australis
The flightless kiwis with feathers more like fur are the strangest birds of all. There are at least four species, all of which are endemic to New Zealand, and this is one of the easiest to see. The best places to see a Southern Brown Kiwi, which occurs in southwest South Island and on Stewart Island, is Stewart Island. Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii) occurs on northwest South Island, Northern Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) occurs on North Island and offshore islands, and Little Spotted (Apteryx owenii) occurs mainly on offshore islands such as Tiritiri Matangi where it has been introduced.
Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus
There are many colourful male ducks, some too colourful some would say, but none can match this one for subtle colours and pattern – it is one of nature’s finest works of art. It has a wide distribution, occurring in Iceland and down the northwest Atlantic south to Long Island, and in the north Pacific south from the Bering Sea to Japan, and from Alaska to Northern California, including rivers as far inland as Wyoming in the northern summer nesting season.
Yellow-knobbed Curassow Crax daubentoni
This, one of the most attractive of the guans and curassows, occurs only in northeast Colombia and Western Venezuela where the best place in the world to see it is the Llanos.
Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus
Not the rarest or most difficult to see member of the ‘pheasant’ family but males are arguably the most incredible. It occurs in lowland Nepal, Northern India, Western India and Sri Lanka.
Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor
It is possible to see flamingoes in many places in Africa, Central and South America, and some places in Asia, but it is the Lesser Flamingo which forms the largest gatherings of non-passerine birds, sometimes numbering millions, on some East African lakes, and the best places in the world to see flocks of Lesser Flamingoes include Lakes Elmenteita, Nakuru and especially Bogoria in Kenya, and Lakes Manyara and Natron (largest breeding colony, sometimes containing over a million pairs) in Northern Tanzania.
King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus
This incredible bird is not as big or as hardy as Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) but it is not much smaller, better-looking and some of its rookeries are not only enormous but also situated in some of the most spectacular settings in the world. Indeed, the best places in the world to see King Penguins include the islands of South Georgia, which are visited on some cruises to Antarctica and on the Atlantic Odyssey, and Macquarie in the Subantarctic Islands of Australia and New Zealand in the Southern Ocean. They also occur in smaller numbers on the Falkland Islands and some wander as far as southern South America and southern Australia but most remain near their rookeries.
Snow Petrel by Alun Hatfield.
'Wandering Albatross' Diomedea spp.
There are four or five species of ‘Wandering Albatross’, the bird, along with the 'Royal' Albatrosses, with the longest wingspan of any bird in the world, reaching up to 3.6 m (11 ft 11 in). They occur south of the Tropic of Capricorn where the best places in the world to see ‘Wandering Albatrosses’ include their nesting places, on islands like those off South Georgia, and the Subantarctic Islands of Australia and New Zealand, or, better still, at sea, in the Southern Ocean, on the Atlantic Odyssey, and off the coasts of Southeastern Australia and New Zealand, and on the Western Pacific Odyssey.
Light-mantled Albatross Phoebetria palpebrata
This, the most elegant of albatrosses, graces the seas south of the Tropic of Capricorn from southern South America to the Subantarctic Islands of Australia and New Zealand. The best places in the world to see Light-mantled Albatrosses include their nesting places, on islands like South Georgia, which is visited on some cruises to Antarctica and on the Atlantic Odyssey, or the Subantarctic Islands of Australia and New Zealand, where they perform their beautiful, balletic, synchronised flying displays.
A great image of a White-faced Storm Petrel off Madeira by Simon Colenutt..
Snow Petrel Pagodroma nivea
There are many petrels to choose from but this one is truly exceptional and not only because it is the most southerly breeding bird, raising its young in mountains up to 240 km (150 miles) inland from the coast of Antarctica. The best places in the world to see Snow Petrel include Antarctica and its surrounding islands, as far away as South Georgia, which are visited on some cruises to Antarctica and on the Atlantic Odyssey.
White-faced Storm Petrel Pelagodroma marina
One of the best-looking storm petrels with what is arguably the best action as well, bouncing across the ocean on its long legs. It is widespread and may be seen in several places worldwide but the best places in the world to see White-faced Storm Petrel include Madeira, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Massachusetts, Eastern Australia and, best of all, in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland on North Island, New Zealand.
Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus
There are three species of tropicbird, all of which are wonderful flyers, but this is arguably the smartest. It occurs in the tropical east Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Middle East and may be seen in many places but the best places in the world to see Red-billed Tropicbird include Baja California, Central Mexico, Tobago and Galapagos.
Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus
All eight species of pelican are amongst the most extraordinary of all birds, thanks mainly to their enormous bills and pouches, and the Australian Pelican has the longest bill of any bird, growing to length of 47 cm (18.5 in). It is also one of the smartest pelicans thanks to its bold black and white plumage. It occurs throughout Australia and is a regular visitor to New Guinea, and even occasionally wanders as far west as Java, and even south to New Zealand. The other seven species of pelican occur almost throughout the rest of the world.
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
This is the largest of the five species of frigatebirds, with a wingspan which may reach 2.5 m (8 ft). The frigatebirds occur throughout the tropics but the Magnificent is restricted to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the Americas, including the Caribbean (with a few pairs on the Cape Verde Islands), where it is easily seen south from Baja California and Florida to Venezuela, the guianas and the east coast of Brazil, as well as Galapagos.
Black Heron fishing at Abuko, Gambia by Steve Garvie..
Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca
This is not the best-looking heron but it does have the most unusual ‘umbrella’ foraging technique where it spreads its wings into the shape of an umbrella over the water surface, presumably in order to see its fish prey more easily. It occurs in parts of Africa south of Sahara and Madagascar and the best places to see Black Heron include Gambia, Kenya (where Lake Jipe is a particularly good site), Northern Tanzania (where Lake Manyara is a good site), Botswana and Eastern South Africa.
Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber
This astonishing bird really is scarlet and virtually from claw to beak. It occurs from Northern Colombia to northeast Brazil and the best places in the world to see Scarlet Ibis include Colombia, Western Venezuela, Eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad (where there is a famous roost in Caroni Swamp).
Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis
This very tall stork with a very long bill, which is black and red with a yellow 'saddle', occurs in Africa south of the Sahara and although mainly uncommon can be seen in many places.
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex
Like a blue stone statue with an enormous bill, this bizarre bird occurs in Africa from south Sudan to Zambia. Although widespread and present in most extensive swamps there are few accessible places where it is seen regularly but the best places to see Shoebill include Mabamba and Murchison Falls NP in Uganda, and Bangweulu SWamp in Zambia.
Andean Condor Vultur gryphus
This massive bird has a wingspan which may reach 3 m (10 ft) or even more and its broad wings are ideally suited to soaring over the High Andes and some coasts from Colombia south to Tierra del Fuego. It may be seen in many places but the best places in the world to see Andean Condors include Antisana NP in Northern Ecuador, Colca Canyon in south Peru (where the birds are sometimes close enough to hear the wind rushing past their outstretched wing feathers), Bolivia, Northern Argentina, Torres del Paine NP in Chile and Los Glaciares NP in Southern Argentina.
American Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus
Few things look so beautiful in the air. This wonderful thing has a wide distribution, from the southeast USA (northern summer) and Southern Mexico to Northern Argentina, and may be seen in most destinations in Central and South America.
Steller's Eagle at Lake Furen on Hokkaido, Japan by Ian Merrill.
Steller’s Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus
This massive and spectacular eagle occurs only in the northwest Pacific region from east Siberia to Japan, Korea and extreme Northern China. The best places in the world to see Steller’s Eagle include Kamchatka and especially the island of Hokkaido in Japan where hundreds usually spend the winter in the company of comparatively small White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla).
Harpy Eagle Harpia harpyja
The ultimate raptor; this is the largest and heaviest eagle, which may reach a height of over a metre and weigh up to 9 kg. It has a wide range, from Central America south to Brazil, but mainly inhabits extensive forested areas and there are few accessible places where it is seen regularly. However, there are a few and the best places in the world to see Harpy Eagle include Cristalino Jungle Lodge in Alta Floresta (where a chick hatched in February 2012) and Serra das Araras in Southern Brazil, and Imataca FR in Eastern Venezuela.
African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
This magnificent eagle gets the nod over Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) because its loud yodeling call is so evocative of Africa. South of the Sahara that is, where it may be seen in many places, although it is less common in or absent from the remaining extensive forested areas of West Africa and the drier regions of the southwest.
Peregrine Falco peregrinus
This is the fastest living thing. When stooping, the Peregrine can reach up to 200 km/h (124 mph) and possibly 250 km/h (155 mph). It is also arguably the most widespread bird, occuring from the Arctic to Australia, and may be seen virtually everywhere!
Kagu Rhynochetos jubatus
This strange bird, in its own family, is endemic to the island of New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific, where it survives in small numbers in the remnant forests. It is a grey bird about the size of a Cattle Egret and although flightless it has retained full-size wings which it uses for display purposes, as can be seen in the image on the New Caledonia page. The island is easily accessible from Australia and is also visited on the Western Pacific Odyssey.
A displaying Sunbittern by Jon Hornbuckle.
Sunbittern Eurypyga helias
This terrific bird is so different to any other it’s in a family of its own. It occurs from Guatemala south to Brazil and may be seen in many places but the best places in the world to see Sunbittern include La Selva in Costa Rica, the Llanos in Western Venezuela, the Mindo area in Northern Ecuador, the Iquitos area in Northeastern Peru, Manu NP in Southern Peru and the Pantanal in Southern Brazil.
Red-crowned Crane Grus japonensis
Arguably the most striking of the fifteen species of crane this one also ‘dances in the snow’ and may be seen doing so at the best place in the world to see Red-crowned Cranes - the island of Hokkaido in Japan, the same island where hundreds of Steller's Eagles also gather in winter. The crane also occurs from eastern Siberia to Eastern China.
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
There are lots of lapwings and plovers to choose from but few if any can match this handsome bird, which also happens to look good in the air. It has a wide distribution across Europe and North Africa, and Russia to Southern China, and may be seen at numerous places.
The extraordinary Black-winged Stilt. This beautiful portrait was taken in Spain by Steve Fletcher.
Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii
This smart shorebird is so different to any other it’s in a family of its own. It occurs in Central Asia including China and the Himalayas and may be seen in many places but the best places in the world to see Ibisbill include Kazakhstan, the Bai He River near Beijing in Northern China, the Qinling Mountains in Central China, the edge of the Tibetan Plateau next to Sichuan in China, Nepal, Northeastern India and Bhutan.
Black-winged Stilt(s) Himantopus spp.
The one to four species of ‘Black-winged Stilt’ have the longest legs relative to body-length of any bird, legs that may reach a length of 24 cm (9 in). It is these red legs together with the bold black and white body and long, thin bill that make this bird a unique and extraordinary sight. It occurs throughout the world, across Europe, Africa south of the Sahara and Asia, to New Zealand, in the USA south through Central America to Southern Peru, and from north Chile across to Argentina and southeast Brazil, and can be seen in numerous places.
The beautiful Egyptian Plover in Gambia by Steve Garvie.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus
This unique and increasingly rare bird nests in far northeast Siberia, Arctic Russia, and spends the winter in eastern India, Bangladesh and east Asia where the best places in the world to see Spoon-billed Sandpiper include Ban Pak Thale in Southern Thailand. Another site where it has been known to winter is Xuan Thuy National Park in Vietnam while less accessible wintering areas include the Lower Meghna Delta in Bangladesh and the Bay of Martaban in Myanmar. During migration it may be seen at the Min Estuary near Fuzhou and the Yangkou Estuary near Shanghai in China, and birds still occur at Mai Po Nature Reserve in Hong Kong during their northbound spring migration but this species is less regular there than it used to be.
Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius
This is one of the most brilliant of all birds. It occurs mainly along rivers in tropical West Africa where the best places to see Egyptian Plover include Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal, inland Gambia, Tiwai Island in Sierra Leone, the White Volta River in Ghana, and Benoue National Park in Cameroon.
Ross’s Gull Rhodostethia rosea
An exquisite bird which occurs only in the High Arctic, even in the northern winter when it actually moves north from its nesting grounds to the pack-ice of the Arctic Ocean. The best place in the world to see Ross’s Gull in all its glory (pink breeding plumage) is the Kolyma Delta in Arctic Russia, although there is also a chance in Arctic Canada and during the winter birds may wander south as far as northwest Europe.
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
This graceful beauty is the most widely travelled of all birds, covering about 70,000 km (43,000 miles) each year on its meandering migration between its mainly Arctic nesting grounds and its Antarctic wintering grounds. It is the only bird which is regularly seen on or off all seven continents although the best places to see it are at its nesting colonies, from Alaska east across North America, Northern Europe and Russia to the Bering Sea. These birds can be very aggressive when nesting though and are quite capable of making repeated blows with their sharp beaks, especially to the heads of any observers who approach too closely.
A fantastic image of an Atlantic Puffin returning to its young on the Isle of May in Scotland with a beak full of sandeels, by Steve Garvie.
Black, African and Indian Skimmers Rynchops spp.
The buoyant flight of smart black-and-white skimmers, especially when they are skimming the water surface with their unique bills in search of food, is one of the finest sights in nature. Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) is the most widespread, occurring down the east coast of the USA and both coasts of Central America south and inland to northern Argentina, and may be seen at many places. The best places to see African Skimmer (Rynchops flavirostris), which is widespread but patchily distributed south of the Sahara, include the Kazinga Channel in Uganda, Botswana and Namibia. Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) is the rarest. It occurs from the Indus in Pakistan east to Myanmar and the best places to see it are Chambal NS in Northern India and in Western India.
Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica
This is arguably the most handsome of the three species of puffin. It occurs during northern summers on numerous coasts and offshore islands in the North Atlantic, south to Maine, New England in the USA, and islands off northwest France in Europe, and is remarkably tame in many places. It spends the northern winter at sea.
Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus
This is an enormous parrot with an amazing crest. It occurs in New Guinea and far northeast Australia and the best places in the world to see Palm Cockatoo are West Papua, Papua New Guinea and near Bamaga Resort, Cape York, far northeast Australia.
Clay licks are great places to see macaws, especially those in Southern Peru, although these Red-and-green Macaws were photographed at a lick in the Contamana Hills, far northeast Peru, by Ian Davies.
Scarlet Macaw Ara macao
This is arguably the most spectacular of the six largest macaws, along with the very similar Red-and-green Macaw (Ara chloroptera) which also has a scarlet body. Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), the largest of them all, is mainly blue, whereas Blue-and-yellow (Ara ararauna) and Blue-throated (Ara glaucogularis) Macaws are blue and yellow, and Great Green Macaw (Ara ambigua) is mainly green. The best places in the world to see Scarlet Macaw, which occurs from extreme southeast Mexico south through Central America to Amazonian Brazil, include Costa Rica, Western Venezuela (with Red-and-green), and, together with Red-and-green and Blue-and-yellow, in Suriname, the Amazon, Southern Peru and Bolivia (with the endemic Blue-throated as well). Blue-and-yellow also occurs in Southern Brazil which is also the best place for Hyacinth Macaw. The best places in the world to see Great Green Macaw, which occurs from Honduras south through Central America to west Ecuador, include the Darien region of Panama, although it is also possible in the Tortuguero NP area of Costa Rica.
Hoatzin Opisthocomus hoazin
This bird is so strange it’s not only in its own family, it’s in its own (sub)order. It is also a smelly bird, reeking of the fermented leaves it eats, rather like cow dung. It occurs in the Amazon and Orinoco river systems in Venezuela, the Guianas and Amazonia and may be seen in many places along streams, rivers and swamps.
A beautiful Barn Owl by Steve Fletcher.
Barn Owl Tyto alba
There are so many weird and wonderful owls and yet this, one of the commonest and certainly the most widespread, is arguably the most beautiful. It is one of the most widespread of all birds, being absent only from polar and desert regions, much of Indonesia and the Pacific Islands.
Snowy Owl Nyctea scandiaca
Another fantastic owl and a big one - some females may be as large as the largest owl, the Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo), some Siberian races of which may be as tall as 75 cm (29.5 in) and have a wingspan of 2m (6.6 ft). The Snowy Owl is a bird of the High Arctic and accessible nesting sites where it is regularly seen are few and far between but the best places in the world to see Snowy Owl include the accessible Barrow area in far north Alaska and Wrangel Island off Russia, while there is a chance of seeing it on cruises in Arctic Canada and in Lapland in Arctic Norway. During the northern winter variable numbers of birds move south and may be seen anywhere in the northern USA, Scandinavia and, more rarely, northern Europe (notably the Outer Hebrides off Scotland), but more reliably in Canada where northern Quebec, Ontario (including the Pearson International Airport area, Toronto), and southeast Manitoba are particularly good areas.
Pennant-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx vexillarius
There are several out-of-the-ordinary nightjar species, the breeding-plumaged males of which mainly have fancy tails, but they also include Standard-winged Nightjar (Macrodipteryx longipennis) of Africa south of the Sahara south to Cameroon and west Kenya which has two large standards at the end of elongated primary feather shafts, as well as Pennant-winged Nightjar, also of Africa south of the Sahara, which has over-sized black and white primary feathers at the end of each wing, two of which form streamers, so that the bird looks like it has wings attached to its wings! This amazing bird is present from the extreme north of Eastern South Africa to Southern Tanzania including Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi during its nesting season, mainly from September to March, and from Northern Tanzania to Eastern Nigeria mainly from April to August when the best places to see it include Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo NPs in Uganda, and Ngaoundaba in Cameroon.
Sword-billed Hummingbird at Guango Lodge in Northern Ecuador by Dubi Shapiro.
White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus
Seen well, this is arguably the most handsome and dashing of the swifts. Seeing one well is difficult though because these birds are high-fliers. There are plenty of places to try, from the Himalayas of Northern Pakistan, India and Nepal through China to south Siberia and Japan during the northern summer, to West Papua, Papua New Guinea and east Australia during the northern winter, as well as South East Asia and Indonesia on migration.
Sword-billed Hummingbird Ensifera ensifera
Not the most colourful hummingbird but no others have a bill up to 11 cm (4.5 in) long - the longest bill in relation to body length of any bird in the world and a truly extraordinary sight. It occurs in the Andes, from Western Venezuela to Northern Bolivia and the best places in the world to see Sword-billed Hummingbird include Colombia, Northern Ecuador (at feeders at Yanacocha and Guango Lodge for example), Northern Peru and Southern Peru.
Bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon guerinii
So many hummingbirds to choose from and this is another relatively dowdy one but the males’ head plumes are astonishing. It occurs in the Andes of Western Venezuela and Eastern Colombia where the best places in the world to see Bearded Helmetcrest include Pico Aguila in Western Venezuela, and Caldas, Rio Blanco and Los Nevados NP in Colombia.
The amazing Marvellous Spatuletail at Pomacochas in Northern Peru by Christian Nunes.
Marvellous Spatuletail Loddigesia mirabilis
Another less than dazzling hummingbird but male Marvellous Spatuletails have got the most amazing tails; 'little hearts' on wires which they hold up above their heads in order to try and impress females. The best place in the world to see Marvellous Spatuletail is the only place it occurs - a tiny area of Northern Peru around Florida de Pomacochas where the Huembo Spatuletail Reserve is a good place to start.
Bee Hummingbird Mellisuga helenae
The male of this species of hummingbird is a dazzler and it’s the smallest bird in the world. Including the bill and tail this mind-boggling bird is still just 57 mm (2.25 in) long. Not including the bill and tail it’s about 30 mm (1.2 in) long! It weighs between 1.6 g and 1.9 g, which is believed to be the lowest possible weight limit for a warm-blooded animal, considerably lighter than the familiar wren which weighs between 8 g and 12 g. The best place in the world to see Bee Hummingbird, which is endemic to Cuba, is Zapata, where males are usually in full breeding plumage in March and April. (The Little Woodstar (Chaetocercus bombus), another hummingbird, which occurs in Colombia, Ecuador and northwest Peru, is considered to be even smaller by some scientists).
Bee Hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world, in Cuba, by Simon Colenutt.
Many other hummingbirds could be listed here. There are over 330 species and the greatest diversity occurs in the northern Andes where it is possible to see over 50 species on trips to Colombia and Northern Ecuador. Over 40 species can be seen on trips to Northern Peru or Southern Peru. In Central America 30 species or more may be seen on trips to Costa Rica and Panama, and over 20 species in Southern Mexico and Honduras.
Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno
The male Resplendent Quetzal is often considered to be the most beautiful bird in the world thanks to its metallic green upperparts, bright red underparts and long central tail feathers which extend up to 65 cm (2 ft) beyond the rest of the tail. However, there are four other very similar quetzals, albeit without the tail streamers. The best places in the world to see Resplendent Quetzal, which occurs from the far south of Mexico to western Panama, include El Triunfo and Lagos de Montebello in far south Mexico; Finca Las Nubes in Guatemala; Cerro de la Muerte and Monteverde Cloud FP in Costa Rica; and western Panama. The other four species of quetzal occur from eastern Panama and western Venezuela south through the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to western Bolivia, and in the Amazon.
Cuban Tody by Dave Irving. One of five very similar species in the unique family..
To see why European Bee-eater should be called Golden Bee-eater take a look at the stunning images on the page dedicated to it on Ray Wilson's website.
There are lots of spectacular large hornbills, especially in Asia, but none are as colourful as Knobbed Hornbill which is endemic to Sulawesi. Photo by Coke & Som Smith.
Whitehead’s Trogon Harpactes whiteheadi
There are over 40 species of trogon, the males of which tend to be very colourful, but this one’s red and silver ‘combo’ makes it stand out even amongst so many beautiful birds. The best places to see Whitehead’s Trogon, which is endemic to Borneo, include Mount Kinabalu and Gunung Mulu NPs.
Cuban, Broad-billed, Narrow-billed, Jamaican and Puerto Rican Todies Todus spp.
These tiny, tame and entertaining little beauties are all very similar and all endemic to the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Jamaica and Puerto Rico, where there are many places to see them all.
Turquoise-browed Motmot Eumomota superciliosa
This is arguably the best-looking of the ten species of motmot and definitely one of the most beautiful birds in the world thanks to its jizz and incredible colour scheme. It’s so good it could be a bird-of-paradise. The best places in the world to see Turquoise-browed Motmot, which occurs from Southern Mexico to northwest Costa Rica, include the impressive Mayan remains of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula of Southern Mexico and a few other sites there, Honduras, and Costa Rica.
Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata
This ball of brightness with a scarlet dagger for a bill is arguably the most dazzling of the many small 'blue and red' kingfishers. It occurs in Africa south of the Sahara and can be seen in many places.
Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata
This is one of the largest kingfishers but no less brilliant for that, being a striking combination of black, white, rufous and deep blue with a big red bill. It also has a wide distribution, being present during the northern summer from India through China to North Korea and during the northern winter from Sri Lanka through South East Asia to Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines, and can therefore be seen at many places throughout Asia.
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
A unique bird in its large family and one of the most striking of all birds thanks to its pied plumage and foraging technique which involves hovering high above the water in search of fish, up to 3 km (2 miles) from land! It is widespread and easy to see in most of Africa south of the Sahara, from as far west as Gambia to as far south as Cape Town in South Africa, parts of the Middle East as far west as southern Turkey, and from the Indian subcontinent to mainland South East Asia.
Southern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicoides
Another astonishing member of an astonishing family - no other bird looks anything like this or its close relative, Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus)! They may be seen in many places in Africa south of the Sahara but the best places to see Southern Carmine Bee-eaters are at their nesting colonies in Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, usually in October-November.
Golden Bee-eater Merops apiaster
This is another very strong contender for the most beautiful bird in the world, thanks to its colourful but not gaudy plumage, dynamic, dashing pursuit of flying prey and lovely purring call. It is better known as European Bee-eater but the old Russian name of Golden Bee-eater is much more appropriate because it describes the bird so well and because this species, despite its common name, not only spends the northern winter in Africa south of the Sahara but nests there as well, in southwest Africa. It also nests in North Africa, as well as Europe, western Russia and the Middle East.
Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudata
A relatively common and conspicuous bird but it’s so good every single one is worth stopping to look at. It can be seen in many places from East Africa south to Eastern South Africa.
Hoopoe Upupa epops
Totally unique and great-looking to boot, the Hoopoe looks particularly amazing in floppy flight when the broad, bold black and white wings are spread like a giant butterfly. One, two or three species occur in Africa, Madagascar, Europe, Russia, China, and from the Indian subcontinent to South East Asia, and they can be seen in many places.
Knobbed Hornbill Aceros cassidix
One of many impressive large hornbills this one has a particularly attractive bill, casque and pouch. It is endemic to Sulawesi where it can be seen at several sites.
There sure are some pretty jacamars but Rufous-tailed Jacamar, one of the commonest and most widespread, is arguably the best of the lot. Photo by Steve Garvie.
Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda
This is one of the commonest and the most widespread of jacamars but it is also arguably the most dazzling. It occurs at many places from Southern Mexico through Central America and northern South America as far south as Northern Argentina.
Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus
Most toucans are spectacular birds so choosing one to represent them is very difficult! The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) is just about the largest but Keel-billed Toucan is also very large and has arguably the most beautiful bill in a family full of them. The best places in the world to see Keel-billed Toucan are many within its range from Southern Mexico through Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama into northern Colombia and extreme northwest Venezuela. Toco Toucan takes over from there down to northern Argentina but it is sparsely distributed and surprisingly elusive, and the best places to see Toco Toucan are northern Bolivia and Southern Brazil, especially in the Pantanal.
Black-and-yellow Broadbill Eurylaimus ochromalus
There are more than ten species of weird and wonderful Asian broadbills but this one has been picked out as the best because it is one of few small birds in the world which has some pink in its plumage. Added to the black and yellow upperparts, large yellow eyes and a big blue bill, it’s a cracking combination. It occurs in South East Asia including Southern Thailand and the Malay Peninsula, as well as Sumatra and Borneo, and may be seen at many places.
A male of the brilliant irena subspecies of Banded Pitta, photographed at Khao Nor Chuchi in Southern Thailand by Roger Wyatt.
Banded Pitta Pitta guajana
There are over 30 species of pitta, many males of which could be described as ‘jewels’ but the one that stands out as the brightest and most brilliant of them all is the irena subspecies of Banded Pitta, thanks to its broad, flame-coloured supercilia and fiery-striped deep purple-blue underparts. It occurs from Peninsular Thailand south through the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra and the best places in the world to see it include Khao Nor Chuchi in Southern Thailand (where Gurney’s Pitta (Pitta gurneyi) also occurs but is now very rare), Taman Negara in the Malay Peninsula and Way Kambas in Sumatra. The other brightest subspecies are affinis of west Java and guajana of east Java, which leaves the slightly less startling but still superb schwaneri of Borneo where the best place to see this subspecies of Banded Pitta is Danum Valley (where Blue-headed Pitta, below, also occurs).
Blue-headed Pitta Pitta baudii
When a male of one of these bounds out of the rainforest gloom it certainly looks like a jewel, thanks to its azure-blue crown and nape. What with a black mask, white throat, rich red-brown back and purple-blue underparts it is also an all-round attractive bird, one of the most gorgeous in the world. It is endemic to Borneo where the best places to see Blue-headed Pitta include Danum Valley, Sukau and Gunung Mulu NP.
White-plumed Antbird Pithys albifrons
This is the stand-out bird in a massive family and one of the most extraordinary of all birds thanks to its outrageous white facial plumes which form a long upright crest and beard. It occurs in northern South America north of the Amazon and is usually seen following army ant swarms only. The best places in the world to see White-plumed Antbird include Imataca Forest Reserve in Eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, the Amazon, La Selva Lodge and Napo Wildlife Center in Northern Ecuador, and the Iquitos area in Northeastern Peru.
A fabulous Andean Cock-of-the-Rock in Southern Peru by Ray Wilson.
Pompadour Cotinga Xipholena punicea
The cotingas is yet another family full of gorgeous birds but the male of this one really is special thanks to its claret-coloured plumage. The best places in the world to see Pompadour Cotinga, which occurs in northern South America from extreme east Colombia through south Venezuela to the Guianas, the Amazon region of Brazil, northeast Bolivia and Northeastern Peru, include Imataca FR and the Escalera in Eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, the Amazon, and the Iquitos area in Northeastern Peru.
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock Rupicola peruviana
The red males of this species are a bit brighter than Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola rupicola), the only two birds of this ilk in the world. The best places to see Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, which occurs from Western Venezuela to Northern Bolivia, include the few known leks at Jardin in Colombia, in the Santo Domingo Valley in Western Venezuela, at Angel Paz's Reserve in Northern Ecuador, and near Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge in Southern Peru. The best places in the world to see Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock, which occurs from extreme east Colombia to the Guianas and Brazil north of the Amazon, include the Escalera in Eastern Venezuela, Guyana, near Manaus in the Amazon and, best of all, at the largest known lek at the Voltzberg in Raleigh Falls NP, Suriname.
Wire-tailed Manakin Pipra filicauda
The males of several manakin species are very colourful and this is arguably the most outrageously bright. Male manakins also perform often frenzied displays to attract females, usually involving posturing to show off their colours and rapid darting flights between close perches, as well as, in some cases, jumping up and down on perches or even over rival males, and, in several cases, ‘sliding’ along carefully chosen slender branches, a feat achieved by the incredibly fast movement of their legs, too fast for the human eye, and often likened to 'moonwalking'. The male Wire-tailed Mankin is different - it 'brushes' its elongated, curved tail feathers against the face and/or throat of its desired mate, the only example among birds in which modified tail feathers are used in a tactile rather than visual display. It occurs mainly in western Amazonia into Northeastern Peru (where it may be seen in the Iquitos area), Northern Ecuador (where it may be seen at La Selva and Sacha Lodges) and east Colombia, and from there north through Western Venezuela where it may be seen at Henri Pittier NP. The species which 'slide' occur in Central and South America and they include the famous Red-capped Manakin (Pipra mentalis) which occurs from Southern Mexico to northwest Ecuador, and may be seen displaying at several sites, especially in Costa Rica and Panama.
A displaying male Superb Lyrebird at Healesville near Melbourne in Victoria, Southeastern Australia, by Michael Halliday.
Superb Lyrebird Menura novaehollandiae
The male of this species has a shimmering veil of a tail with lyre-shaped outer tail feathers but it is its song which is even more amazing, for it is a superb mimic, even copying the shutter and motor-drive sounds of SLR cameras. It occurs near Sydney in Eastern Australia and Melbourne in Southeastern Australia and is most likely to be heard singing and seen displaying in the southern autumn and winter, which is also true of the only other lyrebird, Albert’s Lyrebird (Menura alberti), which is just as good at mimicry and also has almost as impressive a tail. It also occurs in Eastern Australia where the best place to see Albert’s Lyrebird is Lamington NP near Brisbane.
Flame Bowerbird Sericulus aureus
The male of this species is quite possibly the brightest bird in the world; deep, fulsome, shocking yellow-orange all over! It occurs in New Guinea of course where the best places in the world to see Flame Bowerbird include the lower Arfak Mountains of West Papua, and the Kiunga/Elevala River area of Papua New Guinea where there are even known bowers which it is sometimes possible to see birds visiting.
A fabulous male Splendid Fairywren of the western splendens form in Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia, by Mark Harper.
Splendid Fairywren Malurus splendens
Of the nine pretty fairywrens the male Splendid is the most colourful. It is endemic to southern Australia, mainly in the arid interior of the south and southeast but in inland and coastal areas in Western Australia. The best places to see Splendid Fairywren include Hattah-Kulkyne NP and Gluepot Reserve in Outback Australia, and in many places in Western Australia, including Perth, Dryandra SF and Stirling Range NP.
Regent Honeyeater Xanthomyza phrygia
Arguably the most beautiful member of a very large family and one of the most beautiful birds in the world, especially if seen well, for then every crescent may be seen clearly and the observer can believe what has been painted in the field guides! It occurs in Eastern Australia where it is at least partially nomadic but is seen with some regularity at Capertree Valley/Glen Davis near Sydney in New South Wales, and less reliably in Southeastern Australia at Chiltern-Mount Pilot NP near Wangaratta in Victoria).
There can be few more fantastic sights to see than a fairy-like white paradise flycatcher dashing about the forest. This Asian one was photographed in India by Tom Tams.
Vanga Flycatcher Bias musicus
This small and stocky bird has a spiky crest, bright yellow eyes, a short tail and broad rounded wings, and no other bird looks anything like it. The male is black and white, the female grey, rufous and white. It has a curious patchy distribution in Africa south of the Sahara and is inexplicably rather uncommon in some places but commoner in others where it can be seen with some ease. It also has a rather long alternative name; Black-and-white (Shrike) Flycatcher, perhaps because the word Vanga is associated with a sometimes violent initiation ceremony of the former Ndembo secret society of the Lower Congo.
African, Madagascar, Asian and Japanese Paradise Flycatchers Terpsiphone spp.
All the males of these species are long-tailed beauties, especially the white morphs of the first three. These birds can be seen in Africa south of Sahara and from Asia to Indonesia.
Another long-tailed beauty - the Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, in the Tari Valley, Papua New Guinea, by Mark Harper.
Ribbon-tailed Astrapia Astrapia mayeri
A shimmering blue and green male bird-of-paradise with two very long silky white tail streamers, the longest feathers relative to body length of any bird, which may grow to 90 cm (3 ft) long. This fabulous creature occurs only in Papua New Guinea and although adult males are rare they can usually be found at the best places in the world to see Ribbon-tailed Astrapia; the Tari Valley and the Kumul Lodge area.
Western Parotia Parotia sefilata
This astonishing bird used to be known as the Six-wired Bird-of-paradise thanks to the male’s six head ‘wires’ which end in small spatules, but it is now better known as the bird-of-paradise that dances from side to side with its feathers held out like a tutu. The best place in the world to see a male Western Parotia displaying is the Arfak Mountains of West Papua where there are known display courts with screens from which to watch them without disturbing them. The very similar Lawes’s (Parotia lawesii), Eastern (Parotia helenae) and Wahnes’s (Parotia wahnesi) Parotias occur in Papua New Guinea, but as is the case with Carola’s Parotia (Parotia carolae) which occurs in West Papua and Papua New Guinea, no display courts are currently being made accessible to members of organized tours.
The incomparable King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise in West Papua by Simon Colenutt. It may not be the most fabulous of the birds-of-paradise but it is arguably the most amazing, thanks to its unique head plumes.
King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise Pteridophora alberti
A small and relatively subdued bird for a male bird-of-paradise but it more than makes up for it with its amazing head plumes which grow to 40 cm (16 inches) long, nearly 20 cm (8 inches) longer than the bird itself, and which it is able to move in any direction, and despite its subtle colours it is the sight of the waving plumes which often leads to it being voted bird-of-the-trip by birders completing their New Guinea experience. Bearing in mind the birds it has to compete with for such an honour it must also be considered as possibly the best bird in the world. The best places in the world to see King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise include the Habbema Trek in West Papua and better still the Tari Valley and Kumul Lodge area in Papua New Guinea.
Brown Sicklebill Epimachus meyeri
Not the best name for the male which truly is a bird-of-paradise, thanks to its narrow, down-curved bill, pale blue eyes, metallic blue head and back, and long, narrow, black, down-curved tail, like a cross between a pheasant and a hummingbird. To top it all it fans its mauve breast plumes and white flank plumes as it fires its unique machine-gun call. It can be seen in the Snow Mountains of West Papua and the Tari Valley of Papua New Guinea but the best place to see a male Brown Sicklebill in all its glory is Kumul Lodge where one often visits the bird-table!
Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise Cicinnurus respublica
Along with Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) this bird is often touted as the best bird in the world, especially by the few who have seen a fully-adorned male displaying. The best and only places in the world to witness such a fantastic sight are the islands of Batanta and Waigeo off the west coast of West Papua. There are known display courts with screens on these islands where much waiting may pay off.
King Bird-of-paradise Cicinnurus regius
The ‘blood-and-snow bird’, as males may be described, is an astonishing sight. Just 16 cm (6 inches) long, it has the most incredible soft but glossy, deep ruby-red upperparts, and two long tail ‘wires’ tipped with shimmering emerald discs. It’s so amazing it’s hard to imagine such a thing exists and even those who have seen it well can hardly believe it. Seeing one is quite easy, seeing one well, displaying in their favoured vine tangles, is another matter, but possible at the best places in the world to see King Bird-of-paradise, which are Nimbokrang in West Papua, and along the Elevala River and near Karawari Lodge in Papua New Guinea.
Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise Seleucidis melanoleuca
The one with the males with candy-floss yellow plumes and twelve recurved tail ‘wires’ that like to call from and dance up and down the tops of tall dead stumps. The best places in the world to see the fabulous Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise include Nimbokrang in West Papua, and along the Fly and Elevala Rivers, and near Karawari Lodge in Papua New Guinea.
A male Raggiana Bird-of-paradise, in Varirata National Park, Papua New Guinea, by Mark Harper.
Raggiana Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea raggiana
The shivering red veil of plumes of the displaying male of this fantastic species of bird is a wonderful sight. It is just one of the six very similar birds-of-paradise species with males that have flamboyant flank plumes, which are red in Raggiana of southeast West Papua and mainly Papua New Guinea, Goldie’s (Paradisaea decora) of the D’Entrecasteaux archipelago off Papua New Guinea and Red (Paradisaea rubra) of the islands Batanta, Waigeo, Gemien and Saonek off West Papua, white in Emperor (Paradisaea guilielmi) of the Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea, and yellow in Lesser (Paradisaea minor) and Greater (Paradisaea apoda) of West Papua and Papua New Guinea. The males of these species are elusive away from their display trees which themselves are few and far between, at least as far as is known. However, the best places in the world to see Raggiana and other, similar, birds-of-paradise, where there are known display trees, include Nimbokrang in West Papua and near Kumul Lodge in Papua New Guinea for Lesser, near Kiunga in Papua New Guinea for Greater, on the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea for Emperor, the island of Batanta in West Papua for Red, and Varirata NP in Papua New Guinea for Raggiana.
Blue Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea rudolphi
The last but not least of the nine birds-of-paradise in this list, thanks to the males’ beautiful bone china blue back and shimmering blue, black and red breast shield. It occurs only in Papua New Guinea where the best places in the world to see Blue Bird-of-paradise are the Tari Valley and near Kumul Lodge.
The extraordinary Red-headed Picathartes near Makokou in Gabon by Ian Fulton.
Yellow-headed and Red-headed Picathartes Picathartes spp.
These two extraordinary species are in a unique family. They occur only in West Africa where the best places to see Yellow-headed Picathartes (Picathartes gymnocephalus) , which occurs from Guinea to Ghana, include Sierra Leone and Ghana, and the best places to see Red-headed Picathartes (Picathartes oreas), which occurs from southeast Nigeria to Gabon (and the island of Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea), include Cross River NP in Nigeria, Cameroon, Lope NP and near Makokou in Gabon, and in Dzanga-Sangha NP in the Central African Republic.
Rail Babbler Eupetes macrocerus
This is a stand-out bird! A bit bigger than large thrushes this rich brown beauty with bold black and white stripes on its head, a longish neck and legs, walks about on the forest floor like a chicken. It is usually extremely shy but rarely flies, prefering to run from a potential predator or observer at great speed. In its small range, the best forests left from Southern Thailand through the Malay Peninusla to Sumatra and Borneo, the best chances of seeing one are in the Khung Chin Waterfall area in Khao Laung NP in Southern Thailand, and Taman Negara and Panti FR in the Malay Peninsula.
Blue Nuthatch Sitta azurea
All nuthatches are a bit special but this exquisite little blue bird is arguably the best. The best places in the world to see Blue Nuthatch, which occurs from the Malay Peninsula to Java, include Fraser’s Hill in the Malay Peninsula, Kerinci Seblat NP and the Tapan Road in Sumatra, and Gunung Gede in Java.
Wallcreeper in Trigrad Gorge, Bulgaria by Ray Wilson.
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
The Chinese name of this bird, which translates as ‘rock flower’, says it all, and this ‘flower’ can fly! It has a wide range but it inhabits rugged terrain so there are few easily accessible sites where it is seen on a regular basis. The best places in the world to see Wallcreeper, which occurs from southern Europe to the Himalayas and Central China, include Gavarnie in the Pyrenees in the northern summer and Les Baux near the Camargue in the northern winter, both of which are in Southern France; in the high Pyrenees and Picos de Europa in the northern summer, and the Sierra de Guara region of the Pyrenees in the northern winter, in Northern Spain; at a couple of sites in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania; in Trigrad Gorge in Bulgaria; Central China; Nepal; Northeastern India; and Northwestern India.
Musician Wren Cyphorhinus aradus
Not much to look at but a lot to listen to, this bird has possibly the most surprising and beguiling song of any bird; one that includes beautiful, clear whistles which range up and down in pitch. This memorable forest music may be heard, and the shy singing birds even seen, in lowland forests from northern South America to northern Bolivia.
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus
All five species of dipper, which can dive, swim and ‘walk’ underwater, are special, even the three mainly brown ones, but this is arguably the best-looking. It may be seen on numerous rivers and streams from North Africa and Europe east to the Himalayas and western China.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus
These little gems look even more amazing when the males flare their aptly-named crests. They may be seen in numerous places from North Africa and Europe east to the Caucasus Mountains.
White-winged Apalis Apalis chariessa
There are several pretty apalises, dinky birds with long tails, but the male of this species, a stunningly attractive black, white and deep yellow bird, is arguably the best. The best places to see White-winged Apalis, which occurs in Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi, include the Udzungwa and Uluguru Mountains of Southern Tanzania, Mounts Chiperone and Namuli in Mozambique, and near Zomba in Malawi.
Varied Thrush Ixoreus naevius
The males of this species of thrush are one of the most beautifully coloured and patterned birds in the world. They may be seen throughout Western North America, from Alaska to the northwest USA during the northern summer, in northwest USA all year round, and from there to California, sometimes as far south as northern Baja California, during the northern winter.
White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus
So many laughingthrushes to choose from but this one, with its amazing big fluffy snow-white crest and black mask is arguably the most striking. It occurs in the Himalayas from northwest India to South East Asia and may be seen in many places.
Golden-breasted Starling in Samburu, Kenya, by Francesco Veronesi.
Golden-breasted Starling Lamprotornis regius
There are a lot of good-looking starlings but this is arguably the best-looking. It occurs from Somalia and south Ethiopia to northeast Tanzania and the best places in the world to see Golden-breasted Starling include Samburu and Tsavo East NP in Kenya.
Temminck's Sunbird Aethopyga temminckii
There are so many gorgeous male sunbirds that they could take up much of this list but many are mere variations on a theme compared to this absolute stunner which is almost all shimmering scarlet. The best places in the world to see Temminck's Sunbird, which occurs from south Thailand through the Malay Peninsula to Borneo and Sumatra, include Mount Kinabalu NP and Tambunan Rafflesia FR in Borneo, and Kerinci Seblat NP and the Tapan Rd in Sumatra. The Javan subspecies, known as Scarlet Sunbird, which is sometimes considered to be a full species, actually has less scarlet.
Golden-winged Sunbird in Kenya by Steve Garvie..
Golden-winged Sunbird Nectarinia reichenowi
Another male sunbird which stands out amongst the many stunning members of this family, thanks to its iridescent fiery-copper and bronze head, breast and back, black underparts and golden-yellow wings and tail, complete with elegant streamers. It’s so good it has to be one of the best birds in the world. It occurs from the eastern Congo through south Uganda and Kenya to Northern Tanzania and the best places in the world to see Golden-winged Sunbird include Mount Kenya in Kenya and the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater in Northern Tanzania.
Bohemian Waxwing by Steve Fletcher.
Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
It’s not just the red waxy tips to the secondaries that make this bird special, it’s the soft plumage, the subtle colours, the black mask, the fluffy crest and the delicate wing and tail markings. The two other species of waxwing also possess the waxy tips, and the Finch-billed Myna (Scissirostrum dubium) which is endemic to Sulawesi and nearby islands also has such tips to its rump feathers. The drabber Cedar Waxwing occurs from Canada and the northern USA during the northern summer south as far as Panama in the northern winter, the almost as beautiful (the tail tip is red instead of yellow) but mis-named Japanese Waxwing occurs in North East Asia during the northern summer and south to Southern China in the northern winter but it is irregular in Japan, and Bohemian Waxwing occurs in Alaska and northwest Canada, as well as north and east Scandinavia, and across Siberia during the northern summer, and south to Canada and the northern USA, as well as central Europe to Japan and Southern China during the northern winter, although the numbers of birds which move away from the nesting range varies from year to year so it is difficult to pinpoint the best places to see this species away from there.
Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera
So many New World Warblers are so stunning that it is extremely difficult to pick out one for a list such as this but this is arguably one of the most dazzling. It occurs in southern Manitoba, Canada and the northeastern USA in the northern summer, from far south Mexico to far north South America in the northern winter, and at many places between during migration, including Point Pelee in Ontario, Canada, and High Island in Texas, where, at times, over 25 species of New World Warbler occur during the northern spring.
An Orange-breasted Bunting in the Tapanatepec foothills of southwest Mexico by Simon Colenutt.
Orange-breasted Bunting Passerina leclancherii
There are hundreds of pretty little passerines but few if any are as pretty as this blue, green, yellow and orange beauty. It is endemic to west Mexico, from near the Monarch Butterfly roost sites in Central Mexico to the southwest coast where in the Tapanatepec and Arriaga foothills it is possible to see it alongside one of its major contenders for a place on this list; the almost as gorgeous Rosita’s Bunting (Passerina rositae).
As far as the bird species which are not widespread or relatively easy to see throughout their range are concerned the top destinations where the highest number of the Top 100 Birds occurs on a regular basis are West Papua and Papua New Guinea (9 species each), Eastern Australia (5), Antarctica and the Atlantic Odyssey (4), Kenya, Southern Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, New Zealand and the Subantarctic Islands (all 3), the Arctic, Cuba, Western Venezuela, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Northern Tanzania, Arctic Russia, Japan, Southeastern Australia and Western Pacific Odyssey (all 2), and single species for many more.