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Subject:Smith's Longspurs, Nicollet County
From:Bob Dunlap <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Fri, 9 Apr 2010 18:27:30 -0500

Around 4:00 this afternoon Chad Gustafson and I found 4 Smith's  
Longspurs at the WMA one mile north of the town of Nicollet on the  
east side of Hwy. 111 in Nicollet County. The birds were frequenting  
the grassy area between the first wetland and the farm fields east of  
the parking lot.

As we initially flushed the birds, we could hear the longspur rattles  
given in flight but as they did not make the usual "dew" calls often  
heard from flocks of Laplands I was immediately interested in the 4  
birds. They circled overhead for a bit and eventually at close range  
we were able to see entire lemon-yellow underparts as well as a black  
"hood," indicating breeding plumaged Smith's. Additionally in flight  
the upper wing coverts stuck out as being bright white and obvious,  
which is a characteristic I have found to be quite noticeable on  
Smith's in the past. We followed these birds as they landed in the  
grass again and were able to get a few quick looks through binoculars,  
confirming their i.d. on the ground.

Chad was able to get a few shots in flight that, when significantly  
cropped, actually show the yellow underparts as well as the diagnostic  
hood and head pattern. A photo will be posted to the "Recently Seen"  
page later. This is a first county record and one of the few records  
away from "known" locations in the state, although as many longspurs  
are difficult to see well and at close range I'm guessing there are  
more that go through undetected.

Bob Dunlap, Nicollet County

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