English and Scientific names:

Smith's Longspur Calcarius pictus

Number of individuals: 

1, age and sex uncertain

Locality: LOUISIANA: 


Specific Locality:

Shreveport Regional Airport

Date(s) when observed:

3 Feb. 2008

Time(s) of day when observed:  


Reporting observer and address:

B. Mac. Myers III

Eunice, LA 70535

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Paul Conover, Terry Davis, Larry Raymond

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

various, but frequently quite good

Optical equipment: 

10x42 Eagle Optics, good condition

Distance to bird(s): 

various, but at times less than 50 ft.

Duration of observation:

off and on for 30 minutes or more, flushing, chasing, reflushing


mostly ankle high grass of the airport; much of it was reported to be Aristida, but I'm relying on others for that

Behavior of bird: 

After walking around for quite awhile, we finally flushed one, and we had decent looks at it as it flew off and called. I figured that might be it, but we were able to relocate it. This time, when it flushed, Paul played his MP3 player with Smith's vocalizations. Terry had said that they had not had much luck trying this in the past, but we had great success. The bird returned and circled fairly low overhead. I suggested to Paul that if we got another chance to try laying the player on the ground, and maybe it would land. We flushed the bird several more times, and the bird routinely circled over the player. A few times it landed and was very difficult to see in the grass, but eventually we got great looks, and Paul got some photos of the bird on the ground. He also got some of it in flight.


A sparrow-type bird, about the size of a House Sparow. In flight the two outer tail feathers showed white, hard to say exactly how much, but definitely NOT like the extensive white of McCown's or Chestnut-collared. In fact, it seemed to be perhaps less than on Sprague's Pipits which we had been seeing that morning. The bird had buffy underparts with some streaking, but the streaking was not bold as on a Lap. it had two white wingbars, and there appeared to be  two (or more) light lines in the back. The bird did NOT have the rufous on the wing coverts as in a Lapland. Also, it lacked rufous on the nape as in a Lap. We saw Laplands later in the day at another location. The face pattern included a fairly noticeable pale superciliary and a moderately dark cheek patch with a white spot on the rear part of auriculars, and a pale but not especially bold eyering.


The bird called repeatedly, and we had ample opportunity to compare its calls to those on the MP3 player. Compared to Lapland (and we had a chance to hear them later in the day at a turf farm), the notes of the rattle were more distinct and emphatic, and were not given so quickly or run together. It was stacatto, but not rushed; and overall, it seemed that the entire rattle was maybe not of as long duration as Lapland.

Similar species:

The lack of extensive white in the tail rules out MCLO and CCLO. The overall coloration, especially the lack of rufous in wing coverts, lack of bold dark streaks or breast band go against Lapland. The general coloration also goes against McC. The eyering goes against both Lap and McC. And the calls were distinctive-certainly different from Laps  we heard that day, and quite different from recordings of Ch-c. In addition, the fact that the bird responded intensely and repeatedly to calls of Smith's played to it on the MP3 strongly suggests that it was a Smith's. Terry Davis and others had reported a Smith's from this location earlier in the winter.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Paul obtained some pretty good photos.

Previous experience with this species: 

No experience with Smith's. Plenty of experience with lapland in LA and in AK. A fair amount of experience with McCown's on the breeding grounds, and some experience with Chestnut-collared on the breeding ground--but no experience with either in winter.

Identification aids:

Listened to recordings of all longspurs that morning. Probably looked at standard guides trying to get an idea about its age/sex.

This description is written from: 

some notes made after observation; also looking at the photos.

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 




B. Mac. Myers III

Date and time: 

2 April 2008 5:05 pm