Looking for Lapland Longspurs!
This winter Westervelt Ecological Services played host to a few rare birds at the Burke Ranch Conservation Bank, located in Solano County, California. Two dozen Lapland longspurs (Calcarius lapponicus) were observed flocking and foraging around the vernal pool grasslands in late February. The flock was predominately Chestnut-collared longspurs, with a few Lapland longspurs mixed in. Longspurs, named for an elongated claw on the hind toe, typically winter in the Midwest and are a rare sighting for California birders. In fact, the last known sighting of a flock this large occurred nearly 20 years ago in the neighboring Yolo County.
These sparrow-sized birds will leave our site around late March as they return north for the breeding season. Chestnut-collared longspurs will fly to the northern continental United States where the males will regain their breeding plumage featuring a deep rusty band on the nape, honoring the Chestnut-collared name. Lapland longspurs typically travel even farther north to the Arctic tundra, where they will enjoy continual daylight in the summer. We at Westervelt enjoyed their presence on our Bank and hope to see them again next year.