Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Smith's Longspur

We spent last night in Greenville TX, arising early enough to get on the road an hour before sunrise.  We were headed to Stuttgart Arkansas.  Why Stuttgart?  In 1971 I made my first visit there with Gary Graves.  After picking him up in Little Rock, we drove to this huge World War II airfield near Stuttgart where we hunted for a special bird.  At that time it was a life bird for me.  Then three years ago Harry Armistead and I took our day off from searching for Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in Arkansas to visit the airfield, now spruced up to handle the hundreds of goose hunters that fly in and out during the hunting season.  And today John and I drove into the airfield, introduced ourselves to the day manager, signed in as a birder, and headed out to search the grassy areas for the target species, Smith's Longspur (net photo).  This is the only location in the US where I've seen this bird.  I have seen it each of the half dozen times I've been to Churchill, Manitoba, where it breeds.  But Stuttgart is a most convenient place to see them.  The manager told us the longspurs had been seen in the closest triangle of grass to the office.  I found that hard to believe since three years ago we had to walk all the way out to the furthest corner in order to find them.  However, we had taken barely a hundred steps when the first birds flew up, giving their rattling call as they flew.  The white wing patches of the males and their buffy tummies made the identification easy.  They circled us for a minute or two before heading a ways north, dropping back into the grass.  We ended up seeing 21 birds and we were back in the airport office in less than half and hour.  The Smith's Longspur was the sixth life bird for John on this trip.  With the early success we decided to press on to St. Louis,.  After a total day's drive of over 600 miles, we arrived about 7pm.  We're staying with Randy Korotev, a friend from my sabbatical year in Wisconsin in 1976-77.  Tomorrow we'll venture forth to look for the bird for which St. Louis is famous, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow.  The species total is now 254.


  1. If there were a "like" button, I would click it!

  2. I thought St. Louis was famous for the cardinal.

  3. That is too Easy!! A friend of mine and I tried last year and we were limited to a distant area. We probably saw them flying up but could not be sure.
    Deb, PA birder who was at Bill Baggs the day of the storm.