Bird Observer: The Birding Journal for New England

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

April 2016

Vol. 44, No. 2

The Obscurest of Obscure Birds: Smith’s Longspur

Soheil Zendeh


Smith’s Longspur. Photograph by Norman Hyett.

My first post to Massbird on December 22, 2015, noted nothing extraordinary:

Despite the efforts of 18 wind-blown searchers on Monday, Dec 21, no Swainson’s Hawk was seen at Bear Creek in Saugus. However, 2 new count week species for the Greater Boston CBC were added: a Rough-legged Hawk and a Lapland Longspur.

This was in the wake of the Saugus Christmas Bird Count crew finding a Swainson’s Hawk at the Bear Creek wildlife sanctuary on Sunday, December 20, 2015. I mentioned finding the longspur for CBC count week. I assumed it was a Lapland because—what else could it be? Jan Smith heard a longspur fly over and Tim Factor saw it land and take off several times and saw the conspicuously white outer tail feathers. We all expected to find a Lapland—and there it was. Too bad, we thought, that the bird had not been found on count day.

To view the rest of the article you'll need to subscribe. Bird Observer publishes original articles on birding locations, on avian populations and natural history, on regional rarities, and field notes, Massachusetts field records, photographs, and art work.