Smith’s Longspur – Accepted

1. 13–18 Sep 1990

HY male

Moss Landing MTY



ph., AB 45:149, Patten & Erickson (1994), Patten & Heindel (1995), Dunn & Beadle (1998), Roberson (2002)

2. 06–08 Oct 1991

AHY male

Pt. Reyes MRN




3. 24–31 Oct 1995

HY male

Pt. Reyes MRN




4. 10 Oct 1996

HY male

Galileo Hill KER



ph., Dunn & Beadle (1998), Beadle & Rising (2002), Alderfer (2006)

5. 04–11 Oct 1997

HY female

Furnace Creek Ranch INY



Fig. 302, ph., FN 52:144, Dunn & Beadle (1998), Beadle & Rising (2002), Sullivan & Kershner (2003) with incorrect year

6. 31 Dec 2001–12 Feb 2002


vic. Calipatria IMP





Smith’s Longspur – Not accepted, identification not established

10 Oct 1998


Galileo Hill KER




18 Oct 1998


San Nicolas I. VEN




30 Dec 2002


vic. Calipatria IMP











Figure 302. Long primary projection, a relatively thin bill, buffy underparts, and absence of strong chestnut tones between the white wing bars help to distinguish this Smith’s Longspur, a first-fall male photographed on 10 October 1996 at Galileo Hill, Kern County. An extremely rare fall vagrant in California, with one winter record (see also Appendix H), Smith’s is the only longspur whose records are still reviewed by the CBRC (1996-138; Brian E. Small).






Smith’s Longspur

SMITH’S LONGSPUR Calcarius pictus (Swainson, 1832)

Accepted: 6 (67%)

Treated in Appendix H: yes

Not accepted: 3

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Large color image: see Figure

This longspur breeds in a very patchy distribution in central and northern Alaska, northwestern British Columbia, Yukon, and the western Northwest Territories; also in a narrow band that extends from the northwestern Northwest Territories east to the southern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Ontario. The limited wintering range stretches from southeastern Kansas south to northeastern Texas and east to Arkansas and northwestern Louisiana, rarely to western Tennessee. Farther east, in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, small to moderate numbers of migrants are recorded each spring. Extralimital records of migrants and wintering birds are scattered along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia south to South Carolina and across southern Canada, including records from southwestern British Columbia on 26 August 1980, 18 October 1980, and 16 September 1990. Washington’s first was photographed near Seattle on 30 August 2006 (O. Oliver), and Oregon’s first was found in North Portland on 17 October 2003. In the Amargosa Valley of southwestern Nevada, a bird was photographed on 19 October 1990 (NAB 45:134, 175; Dunn and Beadle 1998), and up to three were reported between 16 December 2003 and 17 January 2004 at Carson Lake in northwestern Nevada (NAB 58:261, 262). A specimen was obtained in the White Mts. of eastern Arizona on 24 April 1953 (Phillips et al. 1964).

A panel of experts assembled during the late 1970s voted Smith’s Longspur the species most likely to be added to the list of California’s avifauna (Jehl 1980), but another decade passed before 13–18 September 1990, when a first-fall male was recorded at Moss Landing in Monterey County (Roberson 2002). The state now claims five records of fall vagrants between 13 September and 31 October plus one of a wintering first-year female near Calipatria in Imperial County; see also Appendix H. Four of the five fall records involve birds found before mid October—earlier in the season than the peak of migration for other longspur species in California—and records from British Columbia and Washington imply that fall vagrants could reach California by late August.

Dunn and Beadle (1998) detailed the relevant criteria for identifying Smith’s Longspurs; Sullivan and Kershner (2003) reviewed the identification of all the difficult longspurs.