[midvalleybirds] Re: More on Blueberry Hill Chestnut-collared Longspur

clearwater at peak.org clearwater at peak.org
Fri Mar 15 10:34:19 PDT 2019

Roy and all, 

My impression is that reported numbers of Horned Larks from southwestern Linn County, as well as most other regular wintering areas in the mid-Willamette Valley region have been low this winter, at least through December and January, in comparison with what we might have expected 5-10 years ago.

It's hard to know how much of that was due to lack of birder attention to appropriate habitats in sw. Linn. There are only a few birders who patrol that area with any regularity. Now thanks to you with you, Tom Gilg and others (was it Kaplan Yalcin who originally reported the Spizella sparrow that turned out to be a Clay-colored?) plus Jeff Fleischer stirring the pot with a Gyrfalcon sighting, that area is getting a lot of traffic. 

But now people are finding more Horned Larks. As Lars Norgren notes, some of these appear to be be larks that came from east of the Cascades, or farther north (these "out-of-towners" tend to be much less saturated with yellow in the face and upper breast). 

Word from Horned Lark researchers in British Columbia is that, earlier in the winter, the main concentrations of Horned Larks seemed to be in the Okanogan Highlands in north-central Washington. Perhaps some of those got pushed south and west by the recent and persistent deep snow cover.

For the endemic western Oregon/Washington subspecies strigata ("Streaked" Horned Lark, now federally listed as "Threatened" but maybe headed for uplisting as "Endangered"), the apparent low numbers earlier in the winter are worrisome. It would be good to hear if someone turns up a big flock as a result of the current focus of attention on sw. Linn Co.

Noticing the recent discussion of reporting subspecies on eBird, let me add: In my view it's not at all beneficial to report threatened/endangered subspecies on eBird, unless those reports are subject to a very high level of vetting, much stricter than is currently in place. Otherwise "false positives" could inflate the apparent numbers, and that could be counterproductive for conservation.

When I talk to eBird reviewers about quality-control issues, I keep hearing that they're all volunteers so we shouldn't expect too much. That's very understandable, but unfortunately end users of the data may not understand. 

And some end users may not want to understand. As the current effort to uplist Streaked Horned Larks moves forward, there are some very powerful, well-funded interest groups that will no doubt be looking for any ammunition they can find to oppose that effort. They know how to look up data on eBird just as well as anyone else does. So my recommendation is to use extreme caution in listing T/E subspecies on checklists.


From: Roy Gerig <roygerig at gmail.com> 
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2019 17:44:09 -0700 
Subject: [obol] More on Blueberry Hill Chestnut-collared Longspur 

I have just posted on eBird some of my photos from yesterday morning that I 
took before Rachael got there, they show more light on breast streaks and 
maybe tail pattern. When the bird spread its tail it was quick and I 
wasn't ready, nothing new in that. I was there this morning before the 
fog lifted but Courtney (nice to finally meet you) had been watching it 
from a distance in the fog, and the Lapland was around with more color. I 
had visitors from Bend today, and we had limited time, on the way back to 
Salem and Bend, we drove Davis Rd, there was a real bright LAPLAND LONGSPUR 
there, likely different than the one I saw there 3 days ago. North of the 
Dorothy and Toto house, south of the round WV Ponderosa Pine, with 12 to 14 
HORNED LARKS. Do you Joel Geier know if HOLA numbers are pretty good in 
Linn County this winter? Seems like there might be an uptick, but it could 
be my imagination 
HOLA numbers in Marion Co and Polk seem to be in the crapper this winter, 
from what I can see, although my most recent trip up Livermore showed 7, up 
from (0)1-4 every other time I drove it 

Roy Gerig Salem OR 

From: Lars Norgren < larspernorgren at gmail.com > 
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2019 20:20:58 -0700 
Subject: [obol] Re: More on Blueberry Hill Chestnut-collared Longspur 

I heard a Horned Lark singing on that part of Malpass Road March 3. I'm 
guessing that may be a resident bird. The HOLA l have been able to 
scrutinize in Linn County this past six weeks in Linn County have been out 
of towners. Given the high amount of snow we have on the east side l think 
some of those wintering birds may have been shunted this way. 
It was about five years ago that l encountered three Snow Buntings 
and an indeterminate number of longspurs on Davis Road during a detour in 
my day at work. There were about 100 Horned Larks in that group which ended 
up in a white clover field a mile north between Country and McClagan Roads. 
The flock had diminished to about 35 by the first week of January. Shawneen 
Finnegan and Dave Irons found a Chestnut-collared in that group at the end 
of November. I have been seeing HOLA with much greater frequency in Linn 
County since the new year than any time in the past half decade.lpn 
On Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 6:19 PM Thomas Gilg < tom at barbless.com > wrote: 

> fyi – in prior days, nearby Abraham Drive (near Potter) has yielded good 
> numbers of Horned Larks, hence is worth scanning for bonus species. As I 
> left Blueberry today, nearby Road 211 and Smith Road yielded a few Horned 
> Larks, and Malpass Road directly south of the Halsey Mill yielded even more. 
> --tg

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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