If you’re part of a birding group or Audubon Society chapter, you may have heard the term ‘nemesis bird’ bantered about. A look of chagrin comes across faces as heads shake. If you’re new to birding and hesitant to ask what a nemesis bird is, we’ve got you covered.
The Meaning of Nemesis Bird
Simply put, a nemesis bird is a bird that has eluded a birdwatcher after months or years of attempts to see it. The species of the nemesis bird might depend on a birdwatcher’s location. It’s usually that one bird species that you have been hoping to see for so long—the one every other birder seems to have spotted. A nemesis bird might take months or years to spot, even after meticulously scrutinizing locations where the bird has been seen.
See also: A Dictionary of Birding Slang Terms
A nemesis bird can mean different things to different bird watchers. Some birdwatchers’ idea of a nemesis bird has to do with how much travel is required to see the species. If it’s a common bird and you’ve been unable to see it, that’s another way to define your nemesis bird. You may growing agitated hearing everyone talking about seeing droves of a bird you haven’t seen. That too could make for your nemesis bird.
The Frustration of Defeat and Thrill of Victory
Despite the frustration that accompanies the long search for one’s nemesis bird, most birdwatchers agree there is a certain feeling of exhilaration when challenging yourself to see a difficult-to-spot bird. Birdwatchers may spend hours going from one birding app to another. They’re hoping to pick up a report of the latest spotting of their nemesis bird. In the quest to see it, birdwatchers will rearrange their schedules for the chance to finally see their nemesis bird.
Birdwatchers determined to see their nemesis bird have spent entire days in a ‘hot spot’ only to go home at dark still not having seen it. Spotting one’s nemesis bird requires an unending supply of patience. The challenge itself provides the needed persistence. Despite it all, the mission of seeing your nemesis bird is the fuel that fires your love of birding. For the determined birdwatcher, spotting their nemesis bird becomes more than just a checkmark on their list. When you finally catch sight of your nemesis bird, there is a feeling that makes it worth all the months and years of the pursuit.
Celebrating and Picking a New Nemesis Bird
The next natural question: what happens once a birdwatcher spots their nemesis bird? After some much-deserved celebration, and a little bragging as well, most birdwatchers climb right back on the horse and find a new nemesis bird. The triumphant spotting of their first nemesis bird sparks the flame that drives the birdwatcher to their next nemesis bird.
If your first nemesis bird was native to your state, perhaps the next nemesis bird for you will be a bird not typically found in your area. Perhaps it’s a bird that might be spotted during migration. To amp up the challenge, many birdwatchers choose a nemesis bird that requires them to break out of their usual comfort zone.
A Little Help with Additional Eyes
If you’re looking to challenge yourself with a nemesis bird that isn’t found in your area, ‘misery’ loves company. Consider adding to the thrill of spotting your nemesis bird by traveling to a new location with another birdwatcher on the hunt for their own nemesis bird. Having additional sets of eyes on a location is a great way to finally spot that nemesis bird.
Having a nemesis bird on your checklist will add to the addictive nature the hobby. Choose your nemesis bird today and get ready for a challenge you’ll want to repeat again and again.