Nemesis Birding 101


Comment on this post and tell us what your nemesis bird is so that we can help you defeat it. (Photo by Luke Musher)

It’s 7am in mid May 2011 on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh, OH when I hear it—chippy chuppy chippy chuppy chip—only a few meters away.  My heart starts pounding and I’m peering into dense leafy understory searching out a small yellow and olive bird walking on the ground, feeding spasmodically but hen-like in the dirt and leaves.  Where is it?  Frustrated, I look around me, and nobody is there to help sight my nemesis—Connecticut Warbler.  I look harder, deeper.  My eyes strain with nothing to focus on in the desolate darkness.  Not a flit.  Not a sound.  A worthy adversary, a true nemesis bird indeed.

Connecticut Warbler - juvenile (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Connecticut Warblers, like this juvenile caught in Pennsylvania (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux), can be difficult birds to find partially because they are scarce throughout their range, and partially because their inconspicuous habits pose a problem for finding them. A great way to see this bird is at Magee Marsh in late spring or by spending some time at the Dike in fall at Cape May, NJ.

Wait.  Hold the phone a minute.  You thought Nemesis Bird was just a fashionable name for some know-it-all, top-notch birding blog?  While that does appear to be true, a real nemesis bird is much, much different from that.  A most repugnant ornithological opponent with hateful, glaring eyes and a smug beaky grin, a nemesis bird is far worse than any ordinary feeder lover.  Nobody has ever uttered the words titmouse and nemesis in the same sentence (not if he or she is to be trusted at least).  A nemesis bird causes the birder great pain and sorrow.  It fills the mouth with bitter rage and distaste upon it’s every mention.  Slaty-backed Gull: unhallowed be thy name.

Sometimes dipping on your nemesis bird has severe effects

Sometimes dipping on your nemesis bird has severe effects

Yet, upon lifering said bird something amazing happens.  One is overcome with the very pungent sensations of joy… relief… honor… and gratitude.  One’s life flashes before one’s eyes.  One falls to one’s knees, face in hands, half sobbing, half cheering.  One triumphantly launches one’s fists vertically into the cool morning air. Hand-shakings and mutterings of good job and I knew you had it in ya commence.  Momentous celebrations follow soon thereafter; pizza parties and ice cream cake, extra rare t-bones on your compadre’s wallet (actually should your compadre hand you a nemesis lifer, it is you who owe him).  I think you get the gist of it.

I have had nemeses many times, lifering only some of them, hating and fearing all of them.  It is a sad yet well-known truth that many a nemesis bird has led to stringing from desperation by even its greatest and most hardened birder adversaries; perhaps their truest evil of all.  Why, then, do we allow such cruel and wicked animals to enter our thoughts and dreams?  The answer: we have no choice.  We hate it, but we need it to survive.  We are but birding machines, and nemesis bird blood is our fuel.  Without Lex Luther, there is no Superman, only Clark Kent.  Without nemesis birds, you’d merely be left with a handful of bird feeding stations in Arizona and a Saturday morning bird walk in Central Park.

To all those sad birdwatchers out there, scared and alone, ready to give up because you haven’t seen a Dickcissel yet (how embarrassing, a Dickcissel!?), don’t stop believing.  We here at Nemesis Bird in our wise and magnanimous ways, have decided to help bird watchers all across America defeat and subjugate their fearsome feathered foes.  We are committed to spreading the knowledge of where, when, and how to see that bird you have been stalking and studying only to be skunked at every chase.  After all, we are called, Nemesis Bird, it’s about time we started blogging about it.

Now, lest you would try to lump us in that list-loving, bird-hating category that so many love to loathe, remember that the Nemesis Bird blog team has cumulatively spent decades of their lives earning poverty wages to research birds. If that’s not love, we aren’t sure what is.

Use eBird to find out the tried and true locations of your nemesis bird.  Do you eBird?

Use eBird to find out the tried and true locations of your nemesis bird. Do you eBird?  If only birds updated their own locations on eBird.

We invite everyone to comment here with his or her nemesis bird, and we will start introducing one species at a time until all nemeses are vanquished (this could take a while).  We are here to help.  A simple thank you would suffice…