The concept of favorite birds is a little imprecise, I suppose. If you make a list of your favorite birds it will almost certainly not be the same as mine. My list includes only birds that I have seen on a consistent basis – birds that have become like old friends. I am very familiar with them. I know their habits and even some of their secrets. Yet no matter how often I see them, they brighten my day.
1. American Robin.
2. American Avocet.
This bird is about as different from a robin as you can get. Unlike robins, they don’t come up into your yard. You have to go see them in their yard, which means visiting an open mudflat out on the Great Plains. They are beautiful and graceful, and in the spring are clothed in a lovely peach coloration. I guess I have a weakness for grace and beauty.
3. Cedar Waxwing.
I know, I know. I said I like robins because they are symbols of goodness. Blue jays have just the opposite reputation. Even my dear mother, who never said an unkind word about any living creature, called Blue Jays, “kind of bad birds.” But I have always loved Blue Jays. I can’t help it. Just like the teenage girls who fall for the “wild boys,” I simply have this thing for Blue Jays -- no matter how badly they behave.
5. Northern Cardinal.
If you ask bird watchers from Europe what bird they most want to see when they come to America, the answer is almost always, “Northern Cardinal.” Many Americans simply take this bird for granted, but cardinals are breathtaking. Sometimes I just can’t believe a bird could be that red, or that beautiful.
8. Red-headed Woodpecker.
The Red-headed Woodpecker is one of the birds I remember fondly from my childhood. They are not as ostentatious as the Pileated Woodpecker, but are just as well dressed in classic woodpecker colors: black, white and red. The sight of one of these birds alongside the highway always makes me want to stop and stare.
They’re little. They’re not what you would call handsome. They’re rather inconspicuous. In the winter they come to my thistle and sunflower feeders by the dozens. I just can’t stop watching them. They are acrobatic, and just plain cute. But mainly I love saying the word, siskin. Siskin. Say it. Doesn’t that sound nice? Maybe that’s why they made the list.
Well, I included one duck. And what a cute one it is! The males are incredible with their black and white hoods and dainty, black bills. The females are much different, with frizzy looking reddish-brown crests. When I see a pair of these ducks, I always think it looks like a man in formal attire out on the town with a red-haired floozy.