English and Scientific names:

Chestnut-collared Longspur   Calcarius ornatus

Number of individuals: 

3      one seen well in basic plumage , and the second two seen at a great distance (100 yards) when they joined the first bird                                                               

Locality: LOUISIANA: 


Specific Locality:

sod farm on Sentell Road north of Shreveport

Date(s) when observed:


Time(s) of day when observed:  

11-11:30 am

Reporting observer and address:

Charles Lyon

Shreveport, LA

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


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


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

mostly cloudy with mid day sun obscurred by clouds  i was facing south for most of the observation but turned to the east to see the tail pattern and underside of the bird

Optical equipment: 

10 by 42 EL Swarovskis

Distance to bird(s): 

initially about 75 yards but eventually the first bird flew slightly to my left within 10 yards or so. The second two birds joined the first   about 75 + yards from me.

Duration of observation:

about 5 minutes or longer. I followed the first bird from the time of first observation until I lost and the other two into the distant north fields.


sod farm and adjacent  stubble corn fields, with scattered overgrowth

Behavior of bird: 

I walked from my parked vehicle closing in on a mixed species flock of  American Pipits and Horned Larks,  when I heard the tillyup call of this species.  I am familiar with this species of Longspur and it's calls and this is the only species that makes this call. I am familiar with all of the longspur species and their calls and I immediately recognized this as a Chestnut-collared Longspur call. The bird called continually thoughout the observation period which is not unusual for this species. A single bird flew up at about 60- 75 yards distance and  a second bird nearby also flushed which was a noticeably larger longer tailed American Pipit. I continued to follow the longspur and lost the pipit. The longspur circled away from me to the right(west) and then arched back around to the left and then turned to the north heading toward me. It passed slightly to my left(east) within 10 yards constantly giving it's flight call. It then made a wide full circle, and when about 75+ yards infront of me to the south was joined by two other birds that then passed far (50+yards) to my left and then headed out of sight  toward fields north of me.


The Chestnut-collared Longspur was initially visually picked up when it flushed at the same time as an American Pipit. The longspur was noticeably smaller with a shorter tail. As the longspur directly  approached me from the south I could clearly see the small notched tail, and as it got closer i could see the tail pattern with extensive white outer retrices and tail base, and the dark terminal tail pattern. There was much more white in the tail than what one sees with Lapland and Smith's Longspurs, and about the same as in McCown's . The books lead you to believe there is more white in McCown's but I've not really been able to tell much difference overall. The Chestnut-collared  flight call notes are completely different from McCown's.
I think the bird I saw at close range was an adult female or first year male as the belly seemed to be a dingy dull brown  and I did not see any hint of black.
The bill seemed small and did not seem larger as in McCown's , and the face was diffusly tan brown.  It did not have the "House Sparrow" appearance of MMcCown's. There was no hint of rufous on the wings as you can see with Lapland, or any white flash you can see with some Smith's. It was not pale enough to be a McCown's. The bird was also "dainty " for a longspur  and the tail was short and notched.


The one bird I saw closely continually gave its diagnstic tillyup flight call notes. This alone eliminates all other longspurs and all other species.

Similar species:

See above.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

none. The video camera was in the car

Previous experience with this species: 

I have extensive experience with this species, as well as the other longspur species. On a couple of occasions I've seen all four species in a single day, which is something one can do from Shreveport  on a day trip to Texas.

Identification aids:

None at the time: I did look at  Sibley , National Geo, and the Beadle sparrow book at home after the observation

This description is written from: 

notes  and memory I  sent a post to LABIRD earlier today

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




Charles Lyon

Date and time: 

11-11-07  9:30 pm