On Thursday Don Torino’s column focused on our recent visitor, the Lapland Longspur. Don reports that Rick Wright, author of the “Field Guide to the Birds of New Jersey had more to add about the Laplong Longspur:
“The Lapland Longspur is one of the most abundant songbirds in the northern hemisphere, breeding across the entire Arctic from Scandinavia (whence the evocative name) through Russia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland.
It’s also one of the most strongly migratory, wintering south to China, Korea, and Japan in the Old World and over most of the United States. One of the great oddities in this chunky sparrow-like bird’s winter distribution is that it is probably scarcest where birders are most abundant: namely, in western Europe and eastern North America.
Flocks of many thousands are a familiar sight on the snowy Great Plains, with records of aggregations totaling up to four million! But here in the mid-Atlantic, most of us are lucky to see half a dozen a winter, usually tucked into swirling flocks of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings on windswept beaches and snowy farm fields.
Like those two species, longspurs rarely stay put for more than few minutes, making this winter’s reliable Meadowlands bird all the more notable.