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The current exercise on VTBird List Serve asking people to name their candidate for the Avian Beauty Contest, reminds me of an exercise which ran through the birding blogs a few years ago. It asked birders to list their ten favorite birds.

I tried to make such a list of my ten favorite birds, but quickly realized that it was an impossible exercise. I started with some obvious birds - like the Wood Duck or Harlequin Duck, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak or the Blackburnian Warbler. But then I had to admit that I could choose ten species from among the waterfowl alone. The Rose-breasted’s family includes the cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting, all of which merit a place on the list of my ten favorite birds. Among the warblers there are at least twenty species that belong among that list of ten.

The birds already mentioned jump out because of the beauty of their plumage, but that means having to skip over other criteria which are just as compelling for a favorite bird - such as the loquacity of the wrens, the acrobatic agility of the nuthatches ...

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