Location: Same WMA (one mile north of Nicollet on the east side of Hi 111) where Smith's Longspurs were reported yesterday.
While our little group was viewing an extremely close and cooperative LeConte's Sparrow for 15 min., a Henslow's Sparrow flew in and landed no more than 15-20 ft. away form a few people and in full view. I had scoped views for perhaps one minute. Key features noted were white eye ring,large bill, flat forehead, dull greenish hue to the triangular auriculars, wide dull green-cream supercilium bordering darker crown with pale median crown stripe, dark thin malar stripe, whitish underparts with dark streaks extending to the posterior flanks, chestnut-rufous primaries and greater coverts that contrasted with the dark mantle feathers which were streaked with whitish edges, and a light brown and short, raggedy tail typical of the Ammadromus genus. The comparison with LeConte's was quite fortuitous, to say the least.
To top it off, a few minutes later in the same area we had 2 Smith's Longspurs on the ground within 20 ft. See Bob Dunlap's photo on Recently Seen.
This may be a record early spring date in MN for Henslow's. Records prepared by Paul Budde for the 24-year period up to 2008 show the earliest date as 17 April and the median arrival date as 11 May.
BTW: our group consisted of Dave Bartkey, John Hockema, Dave Johnson, Jim Otto and another unidentified observer who just happened to arrive as all this was taking place. An amazingly rewarding morning.
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