Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2008-13

Common name:

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Scientific name: Calcarius ornatus
Date: 12-21-07
Time: 5:00pm?
Length of time observed: 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult?
Sex: male? in nonbreeding?
Location: West end of Glover Lane, Farmington
County: Davis
Latilong: --
Elevation: ~4200'
Distance to bird: 5 - 25 feet
Optical equipment: 10x42 Binocs
Weather: Clear skies and freezing!
Light Conditions: It was getting dark when we relocated the bird
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
I didn't fill out the above 4 sections as they always bother me. Asking to describe the size and shape of a sparrow-like bird, without saying, it was about the size of... and shaped like a sparrow... is kind of hard. So lets say it was shaped like a Snow Bunting (still sparrow-like) and smaller than a Rosy-Finch... You get my point.

Striking features were the obvious faded chestnut-collar. A nice dark eye-line, behind the eye, tapering down to another dark ear spot. The face had a yellowish wash, with a clear pale eye-ring. The crown was a light brown, with a buffy supercillium that dissolved into the chestnut nape. The bill was a small conical bill.

The chest, belly and flanks, were an off-white, whit lots of splotchy black areas, including feathers that were completely black on the large portions of the belly.

The wings and back had a base color that was slightly lighter brown than the chestnut color on the nape. This was accented on teh back with some light, but mostly dark braces. There appeared to be two slight white wing bars, but they weren't distinct. When sitting the outer primaries appeared to have a lot of white edging, while the inner primaries and secondaries showed a lot of dark edging. There was some mixing, and nothing especially helpful for ID purposes.

The tail was VERY short, and had two obvious large white edges giving it a distinct black triangle wedge in the middle. When we first flushed the bird it flew directly over the car, showing this pattern beautifully.
(see photo)
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard that I can remember.
Behavior: It was foraging along the edges of a paved road, occasionally taking short flights. It was quite approachable and seemed only concerned with gathering food.
Habitat: Paved country road, along a marsh.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Even in a non-breeding plumage this species is unique from its relatives...

McCown's Longspur lacks the chestnut collar in all ages and forms.

Smith's lack a dark belly in all ages and forms.

Lapland lacks a dark belly, has a much more distinctive head pattern, and nowhere near as much white in the tail.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have seen breeding McCown's and Chestnut-collared in Wyoming and Colorado. Have seen numerous winter Lapland, never full breeding. Have not seen Smith's.
References consulted: Sibley...
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Tim Avery
Observer's address: Salt Lake City, Utah
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Bryan Shirley who found the bird. Larene Wyss, Steve and Cindy Sommerfeld, and Paul Higgins. Others may have seen it as well, these are the folks I remember being there.
Date prepared: 06/30/2008
Additional material: Photo
Additional Comments: Since no one has written this up I decided to...