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April 2011


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Bob Dunlap <[log in to unmask]>
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Bob Dunlap <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 12 Apr 2011 14:45:47 -0600
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This afternoon I went to walk through Gustavus Adolphus College's  
Coneflower Prairie, a 70-acre grassland making up the western side of  
the college's Linnaeus Arboretum. Around 2:45 I flushed a bird at very  
close range from the southern side of the hill in the center of the  
prairie. The bird was clearly an adult male Smith's Longspur, with  
vibrant yellow underparts, darker upperparts and wings with bright  
white median coverts, a bold black-and-white facial pattern, and  
obvious white outer rectrices. The bird called in flight as well; a  
rattle somewhat slower and perhaps sweeter than that of Lapland  
Longspurs, without any "dew" calls given (such calls are  
characteristic of Laplands). The bird flew one tight circle around the  
prairie hill and then opted to fly west a few hundred yards, seemingly  
landing in the farm field across the gravel road to the west of the  

This is the second year in a row that I have found Smith's Longspur in  
Nicollet County, and nearly on the same date (last year's four birds  
at the Nicollet WMA were found on April 9 but remained until April  
11). The location/habitat of today's bird is strikingly similar to  
that of last year's birds: very short-length prairie grass (about  
ankle high right now) and near/at the base of the highest point in the  
immediate area. Other birds sharing the Coneflower Prairie this  
afternoon included several Vesper Sparrows, a pair of Horned Larks,  
and a silent meadowlark.

Bob Dunlap, Nicollet County

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