Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2019-40

Common name:

McCown's Longspur

Scientific name: Rhynchophanes mccownii
Date: 11-28-2019
Time: 11:25 am
Length of time observed: 10 minutes (observed twice)
Number: 1
Age: Unknown
Sex: Male
Location: West of Reese, Utah
County: Weber
Latilong: (41.2538307, -112.2055957)
Elevation: 4145
Distance to bird: ~20
Optical equipment: Opticall_Equipment: Pentax and Nikon binoculars, canon and Nikon cameras.
Weather: Weather: Snow
Light Conditions: Flat light
Description:        Size of bird: ~6
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Sparrow
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Light Brown
(Description:)            Bill Type: Sparrow-like
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Stubby tail, Inverted black T pattern against mostly white tail was the first field mark that was noticed while bird flew directly away. The rusty median coverts were then observed to make sure it wasn t any other type of Longspur. Observed feeding with Horned Larks, flushing often. Grayish primaries with short primary projection. Belly and breast were mostly white with a dark gray wash to flanks and a warm Buffy coloration to upper breast. Pink legs and bill. Auricular pattern very muted in comparison to other longspur species without any noticeable border.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None given.
Behavior: Feeding with HOLA along exposed asphalt after snow storm.
Habitat: Open grassland/playa currently covered in snow.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Rust colored median coverts and inverted T pattern of tail are diagnostic for this species. Chestnut-collared, Smith s, and Lapland Longspurs don t have the rusty median coverts. Smith s and Lapland have more of a wedge pattern to their tails with little white at the edges. Chestnut-collared have less white with more of a triangle black pattern to the tail. Bill heavier at the base and larger overall than other longspurs.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have had extensive experience with Wintering Lapland Longspurs in Utah as well as breeding individuals in Alaska. McCown s Longspurs I ve observed in non breeding plumage in Utah. I ve yet to observe Chestnut-collared or Smith s Longspurs.
References consulted: Memory, Sibley s.
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Mike Hearell
Observer's address: Pleasant View, Utah
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Taylor Abbott
Date prepared: 11-28-2019
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: