Your target birds, which are hard to see but not rare?

There are many birds which are not exactly rare, but of which I simply haven’t had tickable views, i.e. views that are adequate enough for me to put them on my list. It sometimes bewilders me.

For my current hometown of Hong Kong:

  • Siberian Blue Robin (So many of my peers have photographed this regular passage migrant successfully this autumn, yet I have only had the briefest of views: not good enough!)

  • Eurasian Eagle Owl (Resident, but almost impossible to find. I did once see the silhouette of a big bird at twilight, flying slowly and heavily. It happened to be a suitable habitat for Eagle Owl, but because of the possibility of Brown Fish Owl I couldn’t confirm what it was I saw.)

  • Spoon-billed Sandpiper (There are at least a couple of records every year, out in the northern mudflats. The trick is to receive the notification, and then to drop everything and rush there. I haven’t managed that so far. A photographer to whom I spoke said that in a certain week in spring he went to the mudflats every day from Monday to Saturday, hoping but failing to find a Spoon-billed Sandpiper. On Sunday he decided to give himself a break, and it was on that day that one appeared.)

  • Indian Cuckoo (For a bird that calls so insistently in spring, it is extraordinary how unlikely you are to see one perched in clear view. Indeed, until this year, I had not had a proper view of Large Hawk Cuckoo, another bird that has a familiar call to all Hong Kong birders.)

Let me know what your list would be!

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Watkins Antpitta
it’s distinctive call is impossible to miss, but they’re rarely seen.


Each and every owl I haven’t seen or heard, no matter how much I look at the trees they’re just not there.
Azure Tit – need to visit specific places where they’re found, but had no opportunity to do that.
Wood Lark – lives in forests and sits somewhere on top of trees, no matter how much I try I don’t see or hear it.
Siberian Rubythroat – some vagrants are found regularly in Europe and as I remember last year it was seen in Moscow, also looked for it in its native range, found most muscicapids I aimed for, but not this little guy.

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New Englander here -
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Screech Owl (any)
Glossy Ibis
Wood Duck (not too rare but a nice find)
Hermit Thrush
Northern Parula
any Vireo species

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I’m doing my darndest to get a photo of the Magnolia Warbler. I saw some flitting around in the tops of pines this morning but they were so high up that it was impossible to get a photo or even get a good look at them. I only know they were Magnolia because of the tail pattern.
They’re here but it’s impossible to get a good look at them!

My checklist of secretive camo birds that are common where I live (not including songbirds)
:x: Least Bittern
:x: American Bittern
:x: King Rail
:heavy_check_mark: Clapper Rail
:heavy_check_mark: Yellow Rail
:heavy_check_mark: Virginia Rail
:heavy_check_mark: Sora
:heavy_check_mark: American Woodcock
:heavy_check_mark: Wilson’s Snipe
:heavy_check_mark: Chuck-Will’s-Widow
:heavy_check_mark: Great Horned Owl
:heavy_check_mark: Barred Owl
:heavy_check_mark: Eastern Screech-Owl
:heavy_check_mark: Northern Bobwhite


Oh yeah, Bobwhites! I’d love to see one of those.

I still have yet to actually see a Veery, despite hearing them rather often.


I’ve seen most of the bird species that occur in my area. However there are a few migrants that are somewhat rare for my area, but for which my home county usually has at least one sighting per year. The ones I haven’t yet seen (in order of freqency in my home county):

  • Vesper Sparrow
  • Connecticut Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Wilson's Warbler: We just had a sighting last week, but I was unable to relocate it. UPDATE: finally found one!
  • Least Flycatcher: I undoubtedly have seen one of these, but unless they vocalize I record them as Empid sp.
  • Bank Swallow
  • Black-billed Cuckoo: I make sure to double check every Yellow-billed Cuckoo during migration in the hopes of finding my first.
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Clay-colored Sparrow

I still haven’t seen a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

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Pallas’ gull
Eurasian oystercatcher
Northern lapwing
Turtle dove

I just don’t live near where they come and though my area used to attract migratory species the urbanisation has really begun to discourage them

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Colorado here (Denver / Boulder Metro). Downy Woodpecker and all three varities of nuthatches (White-breasted, Red-breasted, and Pygmy.) I have a frustrating fascinaton with trying to photograph things that don’t particularly like to hold still.

On the other hand, I probably have one of the top collections of birdie butt photos in the Western Hemisphere. :woman_shrugging:

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“Target birds” would imply that I go out looking for them, and I don’t, but there are some birds I am always excited to find, although they’re not rare. They include Williamson’s Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, Lewis’ Woodpecker, and Pygmy Nuthatch (which I did see recently: ).

And then there’s the Black Rail, which I’ve never seen and probably never will, but it would be SO cool if I did.