#ABArare - McCown's Longspur - Georgia
by Nate Swick
On March 2, 2013, Patty McLean, birding at the Marshallville Super Sod Farm in Macon County, Georgia, discovered two McCown's Longspurs in a small flock of Lapland Longspurs. Pending acceptance, this is a first state record for Georgia and only the second record in the eastern part of North America.
Marshallville Super Sod Farm is in central Georgia, about 30 miles southwest of Macon and 100 miles south of Atlanta. From I-75 in Perry, take GA 127/224 (Exit 135) west toward Marshallville. Follow GA 127 through Marshallville. Approximately 4 or 5 miles outside of Marshallville, near mile marker 21, look for Felton Rd (County Rd 37). Turn left on Felton Rd, which takes you along the east side of the sod farm. More information on the site is available at the Macon County Birding Locations website.
The birds have been seen in the vicinity of the plowed area hear the first pool of water on the first cross-farm road. As of the time of this posting, they were seen as recently as March 10.
A possible Chesnut-collared Longspur has been reported from the same area. This would also be a first state record for Georgia. This bird has not been confirmed however.
McCown's Longspur is, by a wide margin, the least likely of three Great Plains longspurs to be prone to vagrancy. Prior to this Georgia record, the species had been seen in the east only once, a 1977 record from Plymouth, Massachusetts. Closer to the bird's core range but still notable vagrants are additional records from Ontario (2005), Michigan (1981, 2010), Minnesota (2000), Arkansas (1996) and Louisiana (1979, 1991).