Kate’s List of Best Birds
#1: The Urutaú (Nyctibius griseus, aka Kakuy or Common Potoo)
Topping our list since 2018, this cross between an owl and a hand puppet finds its home throughout Central and South America. It doesn’t build a nest, but simply picks a post or upright trunk and lays an egg. Its finest feature is the self-satisfaction it displays when it tips its head skyward and pretends to be a piece of wood. While it doesn’t have the same spine-rattling moan as its cousin, the Great Potoo, its throaty little whistle is enchanting in its own right.
#2: The King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa)
This beautiful scavenger silently judges you from a distance. Noted for his bright face and dignified plumage, he recently auditioned for the role of Hades in Disney’s upcoming live remake of Hercules. You may feel an unsettling desire to hug him, but resist the urge: his beak and talons can tear through human flesh. Like the Urutaú, he lives in Central and South America.
#3: The mockingbird who sings outside my window at night (Songus beautificus)
In a surprise upset, this humble singer rises to the third spot on our list. For the past week he has chirped his feathery heart out for hours on end, surrounded by darkness and an overwhelming desire for a mate. There’s something magical about birdsong at night, and since only the bachelor birds perform these little concertos, I’ll enjoy his musical etudes while I can.
#4 The Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae)
I mean, “superb” is right there in the name. This Australian native brings new meaning to the practice of mimicry as he struts around his rainforest. His tail feathers, when raised upright, resemble a Greek lyre, but he can also extend them over his head like a useless umbrella. He is currently in contract negotiations with Lucasfilm to provide sound effects for the next wave of Star Wars titles. Well done, little bird.
#5 The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
These unassuming gentlebirds inhabit much of North America, including my local riparian preserve. Smaller in size than their cousin, the Great Egret, they present a delightful, dignified form that includes bright yellow feet and a long neck that disappears when they tuck it close. Almost hunted to extinction in the 1800s they now thrive thanks to protections enacted on their behalf. This fortuitous conservation has enabled them to continue their long-running cosplay contest to see who can best impersonate an albino Frédéric Chopin.
- The Harpy Eagle, who would rip my face off if I didn’t at least give her a nod for how majestic/terrifying she is
- The Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, for being such an adorable little stink
Not All Procrastination
For the record I’ve also added 30K words to my current work-in-progress. That number should be higher, but I’m writing in 1st person POV, which I hate and which requires me to comb over a scene multiple, multiple times to make sure it’s not just talking heads and hand movements.
Did I mention I hate 1st person? I do. I can’t even stay present in my own brain for more than 5 minutes, let alone a fictional character’s. But, this story wouldn’t be the same in 3rd, so.
Anyway, which feathered friend tops your List of Best Birds?
(If it’s a shoebill, you can show yourself the door, and take that nightmare fuel with you.)