Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2010-37

Common name:

McCown's Longspur

Scientific name: Calcarius mccownii
Date: 02-25-10
Time: 11:00 -11:30 a
Length of time observed: ~ 10 minutes
Number: 2-3
Age: various
Sex: male and female
Location: Blue Creek Valley, Midland Road, sw of Howell.
County: Box Elder
Latilong: 2
Elevation: ~ 4580 ft
Distance to bird: 20 m
Optical equipment: 10 x 42 binoculars 20-60 x scope
Weather: clear, calm and cold
Light Conditions: bright mid-day sun
Description:        Size of bird: small
(Description:)       Basic Shape: sparrow
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: brown and white, mottled
(Description:)            Bill Type: small and cone shaped
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Smallish sparrow with short, stout, conical, pink bill with dark tip. Buffy brown and black uppersides and white undersides. Plain buffy face with dark eye, and dark auricular patch, dark brown streaked crown, white chin. Male with black bib on chest. Mantle buffy brown with bold black streaking. Wing with long primary projection and chestnut patch on median upper coverts. Tail with black center (white outer retrices) expanding on tip of all but outer-most retrices. Black legs with long dark nails.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: na
Behavior: feeding along edge of road and in snowy fields
Habitat: snow covered agricultural and pasture area
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Winter male is distinct, however, immature and winter females resemble Chestnut-collared Longspur. Distinguished by smaller bill, shorter primary projection, and distinct lower auricular spot.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
limited, but I've studied these and other longspurs a few times
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Rick Fridell
Observer's address: Hurricane, UT
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 10-03-10
Additional material: Photos