The Smith's Longspur Twitch to Duncan

Went over to Duncan the day after my friend Jeremy Gatten found a Smith's Longspur in a dirt field beside 7-11. In this same field he found a Lark and Vesper Sparrow the week before. These birds are stunning in breeding plumage and subtly beautiful in non-breeding. This was a new BC bird for me. Fun fact - Smith's Longspurs are polygynandrous so both sexes have multiple partners each breeding season. Female mate over 300 times a week during this time as well. The last chaseable one in BC was in 2013 when Mike Toochin and Kevin Louth found one at Boundary Bay. We have multiple other records in the province since but they have not been chaseable. Also they breed in the province in small numbers in inaccessible areas that you can only get to by helicopter so that is why I went right away to see it. The bird is still there today delighting birders which is cool!

Smith's Longspur in Duncan, BC - Photos: Melissa Hafting

After went to Victoria and saw a Tropical Kingbird and a Lapland Longspur making a 2 Longspur day. It was a nice way to end the successful twitch. Also, it was nice to successfully twitch in Duncan for once. I dipped on my last trips over there in search of a Snowy Egret and Tricolored Heron. There was 2 Tropical Kingbirds in the Metro Vancouver this weekend and Vancouver Island has already had 2 this fall, so maybe this will be a good year for them.

Tropical Kingbird in Victoria - Photos: Melissa Hafting

Also on the same weekend on Saturday Anne Murray and Iris Wong found an Acorn Woodpecker at Ladner Harbour Park in Delta. This was only the second time I’ve seen this species in the province. It is our 13th record. Also at the park there was at least 6 California Scrub-Jays which is insane.

Not sure what is going on if it’s drought related  or natural range expansion but Metro Vancouver has 70 Scrub Jays now and almost all are photographed. We also have a few hybrids with Steller’s Jays who are dispersing. Time will tell if these birds stay and establish with the ever warming climate or if they leave before winter.

California Scrub-Jay in Delta - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Male Acorn Woodpecker in Delta - Photo: Melissa Hafting 


  1. I remember that twitch in 2013. The bird was at the far side of a farm field, in one of the furrows, so you could only see it when it popped its head up for a fraction of a second. Not nearly as convenient as this bird!

  2. Great job finding the rare bird!!


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