View Full Version : What was your rarest bird species photographed?

Gyorgy Szimuly
02-23-2008, 08:23 AM
Aimed to be a funny thread just as a relax within the ongoing techs and figures :D :p
What was the rarest bird species ever photographed in your lifetime and was the result as nice as you normally achieve?

No idea if images are allowed to be uploaded. If we get a green light from the owners that would be cool indeed :);)

Have a nice weekend Buddies! :)
Szimi http://kepfeltoltes.hu/080215/shorebirdlover_www.kepfeltoltes.hu_.gif

Alfred Forns
02-23-2008, 08:31 AM
Sounds like a good idea Szimi Wondering what you are going ot come up with

Will be fine to post one image in replying keeping within the posting limits !!!!
.... not home now but will uploading mine !!!

Jim Poor
02-23-2008, 09:12 AM
I'd have to say that would be the White-Eared Hummingbird. It is really rare in the US. I'll see if I can find a pic to post in a bit, but as far as quality. I didn't do real well with that species :(

Mike Dale
02-23-2008, 09:14 AM
I've got a picture somewhere of Bali Starling taken with a Nikon One Touch PS.

Here is a list of the truly rare birds http://www.rarebirdsyearbook.com/species.htm

Daniel Cadieux
02-23-2008, 09:29 AM
There are birds there are rare, period. Then there are birds that are common but rare for your area. Mine is one of those. Taken last August this Long-tailed Jaeger is the first confirmed report of this species for Ottawa, Canada in 30 years. It was discovered by yours truly along with Stephen Stephen and Wayne Wood (both of this forum). Normally migrating out over the ocean, this guy came straight down inland and we were lucky to cross paths with it one morning. After we reported it to the local birding community it stayed for a few days longer allowing many birders a good long look at it as it chased gulls along the shores of the Ottawa River. It was a lifer for many of us who don't yet have the means to travel to the arctic:).

Not the best photo in the world, but for a potentially once-in-a-lifetime sighting I'm pretty darn satisfied with it - and so were a couple of local customers;)


Gyorgy Szimuly
02-23-2008, 01:26 PM
White-bellied Seedsnipe (Attagis malouinus)
Garibaldi Pass, Tolhuin, Tierra Del Fugeo, Argentina l November 2005
Canon EOS 20D l EF 600mm f/4.0L IS USM

My species is the White-bellied Seedsnipe in Tierra del Fugeo, Argentina where I wanted this species so much. After a devastating climbing of a 50 degree angled snow covered and really wet slope we arrived to a plateau where we had to find this bird. As I walked carefully I flushed the quiet bird from its nest. My heart skipped to beat for sure :);)

The 600mm lens was hanging on my shoulder with 20D attached. As I climbed the expo control reel moved from zero to +3 stops by my ell :( I found a good spot to make some nice shot of the bird while I was battling for breath :eek: but missed to recognize the fault :( Yes, what an amateur... As we had not too much time we left the area (not much time as we wanted the bird to return to its nest :( )

Finally the result was like this after doing hard job in Aperture and PS. This means nothing else than I need to climb that sh..tty hill again to have one really nice image for my shorebird book. :D:D:D

Szimi http://kepfeltoltes.hu/080215/shorebirdlover_www.kepfeltoltes.hu_.gif

Mike Tracy
02-23-2008, 01:56 PM
I know it's not the best photo but it was exciting to see this Whooping Crane flying along the shore of Lake Kissimee, Fl.

Ian McHenry
02-23-2008, 03:38 PM
Unfortunately this bird is not wild and free as I would need a trip to the sub Antarctic !!!
However named in rare bird yearbook and have submitted this picture for consideration in next edition.
The Campbell Island Teal is a delightful little duck.
It does not fly.
This one is very friendly towards me and twitters and comes up close when it sees me !!! Often too close for pictues. LOL
Ian McHenry

George DeCamp
02-23-2008, 08:24 PM

Funny, I can't for the life of me remember it's name but image was made in Kenya on our first trip there in 2004. Not really sure it was so rare even but rare to me. Of course I would have cropped it differently now.. ;)

Edit: It's a Pallid Harrier.

Axel Hildebrandt
02-23-2008, 08:49 PM
I'm a big fan of alcids. Dovekies are not very rare but it is hard to find them near the shore. I photographed this one on Cape Cod in December 2006. There was no way to get a lower angle.


Brandon Holden
02-23-2008, 09:33 PM
One species i've often considered my "rarest" is the Kirtland's Warbler... I've had the good fortune of photographing 3 different birds each of the past few spring migrations at Point Pelee... The one below was last year, a dull (possibly young) female... With warblers, its sometimes harder to get the ladies, so I was pretty happy with it!

1D M2n, 600 + 2.0x TC.. 100% of frame

Judd Patterson
02-23-2008, 10:16 PM

Bridled Quail-dove down in the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix). It's not incredibly rare, but its range is fairly small and I've never come across another photograph of the species.

Meint Sijp
02-24-2008, 07:31 AM
My is the Woodhen Tricholimnas Sylvestris. It once was the rearest bird in the world but know due to a very successeful captive breeding program they saved the spicies but still have to ceep counting the bird.


Lana Hays
02-24-2008, 08:01 AM
I found this Ruff in Central Kentucky at a Fish Hatchery late July 2006. He only stayed one day and it was only the 5th record of a Ruff in Kentucky. That summer the fish hatchery had drained ponds several months early in anticipation of some reconstruction. Twenty species were seen including other rarities. This was the only summer that the ponds were drained that early.....and it shows how valuable habitat can be when available for migrating shorebirds. This was the documenting image used for several publications.

Rocky Sharwell
02-25-2008, 07:19 AM
I am in the midst of switching to my Mac system but my rarest is a Siberian Ruby Throat that just posed for us in Nome, Alaska 2003...

Noel Carboni
02-25-2008, 08:28 AM
Wow, some great catches in this thread!

I've heard Purple Gallinules are fairly rare. Wouldn't know it given the number I've seen down here at Green Cay Wetland and Loxahatchee preserve (south Florida).

Here's a higher resolution image: http://forum.ourdarkskies.com/gallery_images/1195956769/gallery_131_16_99836.jpg


Romy Ocon
02-25-2008, 07:06 PM
Nice thread!

Many of our endemics are rare/uncommon and tough to find in our fast-shriking forests. Here's sharing one of our rarities - a male Indigo-banded Kingfisher (Alcedo cyanopecta). It's 5-1/2" total length and inhabits dark streams.

40D + 500 f4 IS + Canon 1.4x TC, f/7.1, ISO 320, 0.5 sec shutter speed, manual focus via Live View,manual exposure in available understory light, 475B/3421 support:




Nonda Surratt
02-26-2008, 07:52 AM
Mine isn't all that uncommon in the southern US but here, different story. It started with hubby saying hey we have this really big dove in the backyard. Image made and I sent it up t the DNR. Not 15 minutes later I get a call, much excitement can they come to my house? Seems the Eurasian -C dove had been spotted by Ohio birders but this was the first and only image of one. So Jim from DNR shows up with a few friends, no EC natch..The bird showed up again an hour after they left.:D

D. Robert Franz
02-26-2008, 06:50 PM
The golden cheeked warbler for me. Kind of a lousy picture but it's a rare bird for sure. Have better images of the females

Canon 1d2, 600mmF4IS,

Judd Patterson
02-26-2008, 06:57 PM
Nonda, the Eurasian Collared Dove was indeed once rare outside of southern states, but they have expanded northward very rapidly (similar expansions to Cattle Egret, House Finch, etc). Kansas had it's first official record in 1997 and since that point they have been documented in 98 of 105 counties, and even breeding in 21 of those. I suspect it will quickly become a common sight in Ohio too.

Nonda Surratt
02-27-2008, 07:04 AM
I agree with you there Judd,but so far sightings have still been rare here, 3 possible EC's last year. Quite the neat looking dove, popped in and out of here most of the summer would be nice to see them more often!

Brian E. Small
03-05-2008, 01:12 PM
Does rarely photographed count? Black Rail is far from the rarest bird in North America (although it is a "threatened" species) but much more a "rarely photographed" species because they're so elusive.

Jim Zipp
03-09-2008, 11:06 AM
Brian, you could acquire a lot of hate for posting this image! Maybe not rare but unbelievably difficult and rare to capture. Hat's off to you on this one!!

Doug Campbell
03-09-2008, 01:56 PM
I have a few images of what I believe to be a white morph Tricolor Heron. I've never seen any pictures of one or any descriptions in the literature.

John Lee
03-09-2008, 04:03 PM
This turned up about 6 miles away from where I live. Only the second one (and first live one) seen in Western Europe. Stayed around for about 5 days and showed down to 5 feet away from the 3000+ birders that came to see it.


Richard Stern
03-10-2008, 09:18 PM
As primarily a birder who has slowly come into bird photography, I have photographed many rarities in my lifetime, but I wouldn't dare post most of them here! However, my favorite reasonable quality one is from last winter - on my way home from work this bird was perched across the road from my house. Cooper's is very rare in Nova Scotia, and there had only previously been 1 (poor) photo of the species in the province - as against Sharp-shinned, which is common. So I photographed this from my car, with my Nikon D70s and Nikon 80-400VR. It never even occurred to me that it wasn't a Sharpie, until it was pointed out to me that it's actually just the 2nd (and 1st reasonable) photo of a Cooper's Hawk in Nova Scotia. Since then there has only been 1 other photographically documented example.


Lyall Bouchard
03-12-2008, 04:34 AM

Congrats on the photo of the Cooper's Hawk. I like the branch it is sitting on, and the nice sharp details. I've yet to even see a sharp-shinned hawk around here, despite the fact they are supposed to be fairly common.

Paul Lagasi
03-12-2008, 11:33 PM
I travelled from Ottawa to Missouri, at the Dunn Ranch, to photograph Greater Prairie Chickens, arrived at 4:30 am, sat in a blind for 2 hours then when the birds showed up, I realized my Sigma 50-500 wouldn't focus and birds would not be any closer than 300 yards..this was the best shot...saw at least 28 birds on their booming grounds but wished my lens would have worked...this shot is heavily cropped and sharpened..ISO was 1600 due to early morning appearance..and when camera wouldn't focus I put on a 2x TC on my Sigma, what did I have to lose, had back focus issues with my D70 so hand focusing was trial and error shoot, glad I now have D300...this was a life bird and I may never see one again..sorry for quality

peter delaney
03-13-2008, 01:43 AM
the Pale Chanting Goshawk is very prolific in the Kalahari but this is the first time I ever seen a Leucistic version of this raptor in the Kalahari .......There were actually two I assume siblings........

Bob Reimer
03-14-2008, 04:05 AM
Probably not a really rare bird but apparently difficult for birders to get. The Grey Hypocolius is one of two birds we get in UAE that are the only species in their family. It seems to be one of the birds that is at the top of any visiting birders list of "want to see." The other is the Crab Plover. While this isn't the greatest picture, being the appropriate 800x600 crop of a D300 image taken with the 80-400VR hand held near dusk, the birders I took to the site assured me it would be good enough for a rarities committee. We have an active group of twitchers in UAE. Detailed directions from the UAE birding site at http://www.tommypedersen.com/UAE.htm (http://www.tommypedersen.com/) and a bit of luck on time of year and day allowed us to spot the bird within 10 minutes of arriving at the site. The big question was where do they go after as they'd rest for about 5-10 minutes and move on. It is likely the grove that the birds are using will be removed in the next year or so for yet another hotel, so I wonder where they'll be found then.

Paul Burgess
03-19-2008, 02:07 PM
A Northern Hawk-Owl. I mean, the Northern Hawk-Owl.

Raul Quinones
03-20-2008, 11:27 AM
For me it will be the Antillean Euphonia

David Smith
03-20-2008, 08:09 PM
This little fellow must have gotten caught up in the spring migration northward. It was the first confirmed sighting of this bird on the West Coast of Florida. It spent about 4 days on Leffis Key in Manatee County, before disappearing, presumebly it headed back South. It is native of the West Indies. My rarest to date..



Milan V
03-25-2008, 10:20 AM
Depend what you mean with rare? Locally, globally, personally?:)


What was the rarest bird species ever photographed in your lifetime and was the result as nice as you normally achieve?

Steve Bein
03-26-2008, 09:55 AM
I have two- The first shot ( along with about 5 other birders)- in Tamalapas State in Mexico of the first siting of a Red Billed Tropic bird which is a poor image since it never got too close, and here is a hybrid ( I don't know if it stands for a true bird specie, but a hybrid of a scarlet macaw and a Great Green Macaw. A group of us , including Artie, were at a sort of rescue facility in Costa Rica. Since the territories of the great greens and scarlets don't overlap, they don't get a chance to interbreed, but these were together at the Thompson Rancho. Thompson ( I think I remember his name, ws a terminally ill man with a love of birds. His official status was unsure, but the birds were free to fly in the jungle days and returned to the safety of his facility at nights . A few hybrids cropped up. I think there were less than 20 know at the time, possibly less. Artie might know, I sure don't. In any case, it is, to me, prettier than either the Scarlet or Great Green.

Juan Carlos Vindas
03-26-2008, 02:03 PM
Hello there, I am almost sure this is an Elegant Euphonia (Euphonia elegantissima)
For me it will be the Antillean Euphonia

Valerio Tarone
03-26-2008, 03:26 PM
the rarest bird i haven'seen photographed is, probably, torocoro a relative of queztal. In Sierra del rosario, Cuba. I've seen you've been in Cuba, but not in Sierra del Rosario.
Idon't send any photo because is not a lovely one. Valerio

Gyorgy Szimuly
03-27-2008, 05:15 AM
Depend what you mean with rare? Locally, globally, personally?:)


Of course, personally and why not locally :)
Depends what a rarity means for you.


Gyorgy Szimuly
03-27-2008, 05:25 AM
the rarest bird i haven'seen photographed is, probably, torocoro a relative of queztal. In Sierra del rosario, Cuba. I've seen you've been in Cuba, but not in Sierra del Rosario.
Idon't send any photo because is not a lovely one. Valerio

To be honest I don't know what you mean. The only quetzal relative is the Cuban Trogon in Cuba. Did you think about that species? Maybe the spanish name of the Trogon ;) :o Anyway Cuban Trogon is a beautiful bird which I found in the Zapata Peninsula.


Pat Gautier
03-28-2008, 11:34 AM
I chased this guy for about 2 years. Got a lot of shots, but never one that made me happy. He's still there. Maybe one of these days...


Arthur Morris
03-30-2008, 03:18 PM
Hey Gyorgy, Great thread. Some wonderful stuff and stories. My addition to the list would be the Siberian Rubythroat that I photographed in Nome about five years ago.

later and love, artie

Robert Smith
03-30-2008, 07:13 PM
A red-cockaded woodpecker eating a scorpion.

Y'all have some really neat replies and some really neat images! Thanks for sharing!

I worked with red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCW) regularly for a while - before I got a "long" lens. While I got some bird-in-hand pictures while banding, translocating, etc., I never got what I consider to be a "good" wild, RCW image.

Last week I was driving down a road on Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area down in Florida when a red-cockaded woodpecker flew across the road in front of us. Now RCWs are a federally and state endangered bird. There ain't too many of them left because they have a strange breeding plan where a whole extended family helps raise one or two young a year, they have very specialized nesting and foraging requirements that require large acreages of large, open, pine-dominated habitat for a few birds.

So anyway, we slid to a stop in the ditch. I hurriedly put my nine-month old daughter in her backpack and grabbed the camera and followed. It ended up that we spent 30 minutes with a pair of RCWs foraging from around eye-level on up to around 30 feet. I got several neat shots and knew that I had a series of this bird eating "something". I thought that something was probably a spider or maybe a crane fly. Well, when I started working up the images, I saw that it was eating a scorpion (probably a southern devil scorpion - Vejovis carolinensis). Pretty neat! It had pulled it from under a loose piece of bark. It took about 5 or maybe 10 seconds to kill it and then about 3 or 4 seconds to swallow it.

Note that this bird is banded with both USFWS aluminum, numbered bands, but also with colored leg bands. The colored leg bands let researchers identify individual birds. The family group is known as a "clan" and banded clans usually have the same color bands over their aluminum leg band. The other leg has different colored bands that identify the individual in the clan. So this bird belongs to the "Pink Over Aluminum" clan in that particular area.

Now, I have images of birds that have a smaller population, higher global rarity rank, etc., but I have to count this one as my current favorite "rare" bird photograph because: a) the bird is rare, b) the bird doesn't usually feed at 8' off the ground, c) it is feeding on a scorpion, d) the image is technically decent, and e) I had my nine-month old with me and still managed to pull it off!

Nikon D3, Nikkor 600 mm w/Sigma 2x teleconverter, f/8ish, 1/80th second, ISO 200, tripod, cropped to about 80% of frame to enhance composition.
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Paul Simison
03-31-2008, 10:24 PM
My most rare is a Jabaru Stock. Only 34 left in Belize. It is the largest stork in the world. My phots were OK, but not great.

Raul Quinones
04-08-2008, 07:44 PM
Hello there, I am almost sure this is an Elegant Euphonia (Euphonia elegantissima)

I am not a expert birder but, this bird was photographed in my homeland, Puerto Rico, the Elegant Euphonia is not in the Official PR bird list and the Antillean is. I should have mention the location, which is one of the most important factor to ID birds.

04-11-2008, 04:44 PM
A Sparrow, because for me to take a shot of any bird is rare indeed. :cool: :D. Sad but true, but then again, how many have a winged Aphid giving birth :eek:


Ákos Lumnitzer
04-13-2008, 02:26 PM
My rarest species is the grey goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae). Apparently very uncommon to rare. I have two records from my neck of the woods some four months apart. Image is pretty poor unfortunately. The second time I saw it it was perched in a tree among some very messy branches. Nevertheless, I'll keep trying. :(

Dominic Cantin
04-22-2008, 03:00 AM
If I was in Africa , that would have been a common bird but I live in Quebec city , Canada and I saw this bird ( Northern Carmine Bee-eater ) at ~100km south-west of my city ! It was in the wild but maybe this bird escaped from somewhere or have realy crossed the Atlantic !!!?


Dom :)

Ian McHenry
11-25-2008, 11:43 PM
I'm happy to report that my picture above of a Campbell Island Teal is my first ever published photograph having been included in "Rare Birds Yearbook 2009".
Cheers: Ian Mc

Chris Hansen
11-26-2008, 01:55 AM
The rarest bird I ever photographed was an Albino Black Oystercatcher on the Mendocino coast in California. The image turned out great. Later in the day as I kept shooting the card failed. It had never been formatted.This happened when I first started shooting with a Canon digital camera and I didn't know how to format a CF card. I thought all the data was lost so I threw the card away!

God bless all,


Robert Amoruso
11-26-2008, 08:17 AM
Masked Duck at Viera Wetlands in October of 2006.

Dan Brown
11-26-2008, 09:07 AM
This one will date me a bit. I have slides of California Condor taken in the early 1980's :eek: This was before the small group of remaining wild birds were placed in captivity.

Sue Thomson
03-10-2009, 08:55 PM
I realize this thread is ancient, but I have a bird that I photographed a number of years ago, and have yet to find out what it was. I had great pics of it, but unfortunately, when the house burned to the ground it took everything with it. At the time I saw it, I had an excellent local bird person with me. He had never seen or heard one like it before, either. There was only one of them, not a pair or a flock.

Time of year: mid summer

Locale: remote area in the Boundary Country, BC, north of Grand Forks

Geography: mountainous, but on a low elevation - about 2300 feet

Vegetation: on the edge of a coniferous forest, perched on scrubby alder brush and flitting around from ground to branches

Song: very melodious - it was the song that first caught our attention. We were checking cattle on range and it was such a beautiful song we had to find the bird. Its movement in the brush gave its location away (a cattleman can find anything that moves out there :D)

Size: larger than a house sparrow but smaller than a robin - about the size of a Downy Woodpecker

Colour: light tan on chest and belly, darker tan on wings and back. Head all dark tan with light tan to beige eye circles

Bill: not conical, more like a sparrow's beak, not large but not small either, more slender than a finch's and it was dark, almost, if not black

Legs: Like a sparrow or a finch

Wings: No bars

Chest: no markings - it was very smooth

It wasn't a waxwing, either.

We looked in Peterson's and could not find any bird like it. The closest we could come was the Abert's Towhee, but it had a light eye patch, which the AT doesn't have. It was not unlike the Townsend's Solitaire, but wrong colour and with a larger eye patch and no marking on the wings. The bill and tail size and shape are similar. It was not a wren of any kind, nor was it a swallow or a sparrow. It was also like the Wrentit, but held its tail differently - not cocked and had the eye patch.

I have spent the last 10+ years trying to find out what it was, but no luck so far.

Sure wish I had not lost those pictures!


Rocky Sharwell
03-12-2009, 08:05 AM
Artie beat me to it...My rarest bird to photograph was the Siberian Rubythroat that Artie posted...