Smith's Longspur - Mariposa Co.
- Today about noon, I had a definite SMITH's LONGSPUR on White Rock Rd.
in Mariposa County about 7/10 mile west of the bridge before the
pavement ends. This is where there is a large Johnson Ranch gate on the
south side of the road. There were also LARK and SAVANNAH SPARROWS in
the area, but the bird was not particularly associating with them. I
was able to study the bird for 10 minutes from a distance of about 12
feet as it first flew across the road, and then fed along the side of
the road in plain view.
As the flock of sparrows flew across the road, I noticed the tail
pattern of the longspur - black middle with white outer tail feathers.
When it landed, the bird was about the size of the Lark Sparrows. It
had a heavily streaked top of the head, nape of neck and back. The eye
had a faint, but definite complete white eyering. There was a
triangular cheek patch with the back corners being more heavily
outlined. The beak was pink and reminded me very much of a tanager beak
- longish and thinish and not sharply pointed. Under the chin was pale
and there were pale moustaches. The breast and sides were finely
streaked - it reminded me of a Lincoln's Sparrow. The tail was long
with a black center and the two outer tail feathers on each side were
white. The legs were light.
This was a definite SMITH'S LONGSPUR and after being able to closely
study this one, I am certain that the bird I saw on Mount Trashmore in
Hayward on Feb 6 was also a Smith's Longspur.