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May 8, 2012

Spotted near Vancouver Airport

Photo by Dave Kemp
Chestnut-collared Longspur
Calcarius ornatus
My new west-coast acquantaince, Dave Kemp, emailed me some photos he took recently at Iona Island, which flanks Vancouver Airport on its north side, in Richmond, BC.   One of the photos was the Chestnut-collared Longspur you see pictured above.   I have never seen this bird, on the wing, and I'm not likely to unless I head to central Canada or the U.S. midwest.   Actually, it was a good sighting for Dave because the longspur is officially described as a 'casual' on the west coast, and then only in the fall and winter (it's described as 'accidental' on the east coast).   This longspur normally summers in southern Alberta and Saskachewan, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.   It winters in eastern Colorado, New Mexico, western Texas and southern Oklahoma.   It is only 6" long with a soft, sweet, and tumbling voice, somewhat like the Western Meadowlark, according to my Audubon Society Field Guide.   It is one of those birds that appears to be in decline because its natural habitat is under pressure from cultivation.

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