Jerry Friedman

Longspurs

11 posts in this topic

I went to the local longspur hangout today, south of Stanley, NM, and finally got my life longspurs. McCown's is the common species there, next is Chestnut-collared, and Lapland has been seen a few times. I got decent looks and ugly but diagnostic pictures of male Chestnut-collareds in breeding plumage, so I'm not worried about them.

Male Lapland?

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Male Chestnut-collared (left) and female Lapland? Or is that a female Chestnut-collared?

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Blur challenge. If people tell me there's a McCown's or two in this picture, I promise not to put it on my life list.

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Why do you promise not to put it on ur life list. If its a new bird, then you should absolutely put it on ur life list. And wow, if you got all three species thatd be amazing! 3 New lifers in one day... I hope to see a Lapland Longspur soon (sometimne before winter is over)

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I only put birds on my life list if I've identified them myself, and I can't identify the birds in that picture. (And I didn't see any definite McCown's.) I'll still be very happy with two lifers. And good luck with the Lapland Longspurs in Toronto!

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I can confirm all of your ID's (I think both the birds in the third photo are McCown's).

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In the third picture, the combination of black breast band plus the rufous median coverts should be enough to clinch the ID.

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Thanks, darknight! Your comment about the rufous median coverts (which I can't see in the picture I posted) caused me to reexamine this other picture:

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I think I can safely call that a McCown's, especially considering that it's almost certainly the same bird that's in the air in the first picture I posted. (The two pictures were taken within a minute of each other, probably less.)

My old Sibley seems to have a misleading picture of McCown's in flight with the greater rather than the median coverts rusty.

By the way, I'm leaning toward female Chestnut-collared for the other "blurd" in this picture. And I cropped it out, but the black spot at the lower left of the previous picture looks somewhat like a male Chestnut-collared in this one.

And yes, cestma, it's good to have this longspur spot around! (It's about an hour and a half from my house.) There's something to be said for irrigated farming in the desert. I was very lucky to get a trifecta, though.

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I'm using an old version of Sibley too (published 2000, the big one), and from what I can tell, he shows the Lapland Longspur as having rufous edged greater coverts, and the McCown's had rufous median coverts. The greater coverts are the ones that touch the flight feathers, the median coverts are above the great coverts.

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I've got that same Sibley. Maybe it's my color-blindness, but it looks to me like the dorsal view of the breeding male McCown's in flight has an entirely gray wing except for rufous feathers that touch the flight feathers, just like the Chestnut-collared in the same position. (The picture of a breeding male McCown's on the ground, however, has only the median coverts rufous.)

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Don't know if you still want to pursue this, but FWIW the Stokes guide has a fairly detailed discussion of differences in winter McCown's vs. Chestnut-collareds.

If you don't have Stokes...I just went to Amazon. There is a "Look Inside" feature for the Stokes guide, and if you type "longspur" into the search box you will get links to both species, which are available online.

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