Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bird of the Year 2013: Meet the Candidates

Hello birdpersons! I had planned a super boring entry about a Northern Flicker, but then I got the news. Audubon California has announced the candidates for Bird of the Year 2013! Obviously I had to stop everything I was doing and write up a voters guide. For birds we've covered before, we'll catch up on their latest accomplishments. New birds will receive a brief, but informative overview. An informed voting public is a societal good!

Black-necked Stilt
On fire since being declared sexiest bird of the year 2012. Has successfully branched out into more sectors than anyone really expected. Resting on his laurels right now, to be honest, but in the eyes of the public this bird can do no wrong.
Chances of winning: GOOD.

Brown Pelican
What did brown pelican do to get his name on the ballot? You don't wanna know. But he's there, and he's made all the right moves this year to position himself for a win. Why does he care? A bid for power? A move towards legitimacy? Simple egotism? No one knows, but he's been racking up endorsements from the business community, and detractors are suspiciously (ominously) silent.

Burrowing Owl
Archival Image from Ca. Audubon: Peter LaTourrette
The traditional gesture nomination provided to someone both cute and deserving of recognition, like when a child actor is in an actually good movie. Unlikely to be awarded the title unless the public is in a strange mood. Burrowing Owl himself is pretty 'over' his fifteen minutes and right now is attempting to drive away interest with rude public behavior. Unfortunately this is leading to more attention, and not the positive kind he's used to. Will burrowing owl make it through this rough spot?
Chances of Winning: PROBABLY NOT

Golden Eagle
 Archival Image from Ca. Audubon: SigmaEye (??)
Your Amateurnithologist saw a golden eagle once in the wild. He was hiking in the desert and one took off from the ground just a few dozen feet from him. Honestly, the experience was too awing for him to even try with the camera. He seemed aloof and perfect, like some kind of bird god-king. A mighty and remote competitor, golden eagle is pretty much ignoring that the contest exists, but is still commanding respect from all commentators.
Chances of Winning: HOW COULD HE NOT?

Loggerhead Shrike

Archival Image from Ca. Audubon: Patricia R. Pierce
Loggerhead shrike's positioning in this contest is mostly that of a spoiler for the more serious competitors. He's a third party candidate, in essence. He appeals to bird purists with his straightforward approach and no-drama attitude. He seems to say: I am a bird, I have wings, I have a tail, I have a beak. What more could you want?
Chances of Winning: VERY LOW

Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo

 Archival Image from Ca. Audubon: Laura Frazier
When's the last time western yellow-billed cuckoo did anything worth mentioning? Truly a nomination out of left field for the struggling bird. Perhaps a bone throw from the academy so that people will say 'hey, remember western yellow-billed cuckoo'. Retains his charms in a technical way, but to those who know him well, it is like seeing a ghost.
Chances of Winning: ACTUALLY ZERO

I hope this guide prepares you for election day and the celebratory gala afterwards. This amateurnithologist knows he will be there with bells on, live blogging the ceremony. Best of luck to all the competitors.


  1. Kimberlee Melillo-RenslowNovember 6, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    I really want the Yellow Billed Cuckoo to win. I never have seen one and I think if more people knew about them there might be some salvation for them. I would love to have some to feed what they eat on my property. I have many birds I love and feed them what they like. BB LL

  2. I'm for the cuckoo toooooo hoooo