Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-05(R83)
(Extracted from a letter dated October 19, 1983 by M.G. Moody)

Common name:

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Scientific name: Calcarius ornatus subsp.
Date: October 9, 1983
Time: approx 2 PM
Length of time observed:  
Location: Upland meadow in foothills about 1.6 km east of University of Utah Medical Center; open grassland/mixed vegetation (up to 30 cm tall); area covers about 25 hectares ringed with Gambel's oak and other woody species; exposed area with vistas extending up to 112 km to the west.
County: [Salt Lake]
Distance to bird:  
Optical equipment:  
Weather: Initially sunny & mild (15 C.); then local thunderstorm with strong, gusty winds from thee SW, a drop in temp, and sparse rain/hail.
Light Conditions:  
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Sparrow-sized, sparrow-looking---brownish striped---bird with a fairly short (i.e., compared to most other sparrow-sized, brownish birds the observer knows) notched tail.  Tail was whitish on dorsal surface with a dark triangle pattern which alerted the observer (see drawing).  There were no other distinct markings.
Song or call & method of delivery: Calls were somewhat musical, but seemed to be "weak" as if the bird was out of breath.  Sounded finchlike, short note duration sung continuously as bird flew, like something between a house finch and a goldfinch vocally.
Behavior:  In terms of behavior, the bird did not pump its tail as it flew.  It flushed vertically to about 8 m then attempted to fly S; caught by strong gusts of wind from SW; flew in a circle overhead then went NE.  It did not land within sight of the observer.  Bird was heard almost immediately as it was flushed. 
Habitat: "ringed with Gambel's oak and other woody species"
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Longspur-like bird did not fit markings or behavior of pipit, horned lark, warber, junco, or vesper sparrow.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Avocational bird fieldwork experience of observer:  4 years in the forests and river bottoms east of the Mississippi;  12 years in Rocky Mts., western deserts, and coast from San Diego to Seattle. 
References consulted:  
Description from:  
Observer: Maureen E. Ellis, Ph.D. (behavioral neuroscience) Research Assistant Professor
Observer's address: Department of Biology, 201 Biology Building, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112
Observer's e-mail address:  
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: October 19, 1983
Additional material: drawing of tail
Additional comments: Circumstances:  Observer was hiking and migrant -bird surveying along an old jeep trail on the south side of the meadow.  Bird flushed from ground when observer was about 6 m away.

Other Birds in Area:  Longspur-like bird was alone when it flushed (i.e., no other birds flushed with it).  Robins, magpies, black-capped chickadees, flickers, and small, brownish sparrow-sized birds were seen flying either singly or in groups or were foraging in groups especially in the oaks on the perimeter.  Juncoes and white-crowned sparrows were heard, as were many of the other birds.