Birding Blog Archives

November 25th, 2011
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McCown's Longspur

The overwhelming verdict on this bird is that it’s a McCOWN’S LONGSPUR, and not a Lapland as I suggest below. Therefore, a new bird for me and apparently only the third record for Pinal County. My thanks to everyone who helped me reach the correct ID.


Whilst birding from the car with Bill and Laura Couchman in the Santa Cruz Flats south of Eloy, I noticed a longspur in the short grass. The location was along the ‘2750’ road running north from Pretzer, west of Tweedy. It was too distant to get much on it through binoculars, so I crept out of the car and got my camera out of the back. I rattled off a few record shots, glanced down to grab my scope, looked back and it was gone. I didn’t hear it call.

On reviewing the photos, it appears to show some anomalous features and more prominent markings on one side than the other. But it does appear to have a very white belly, a heavy pink bill, broad chestnut edges to the tertials, some chestnut color in the greater coverts and long primaries. I’ve not seen Lapland Longspur since leaving the UK nine years ago, I’m somewhat familiar with Chestnut-collared (although when do you ever get good views?) and, embarrassingly, I’ve never knowingly seen a McCown’s Longspur. If I had to pick one, I’d hesitatingly call it a faded LAPLAND LONGSPUR, but I’d be very willing to accept a different diagnosis from more experienced and competent observers.

So… what do you think? Please let me know…

These photos are not only heavily cropped, but also blown up to about 200%. They are exactly as they came off the camera, with no editing. Larger versions here.







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