Archive for January 26th, 2018

Smith’s Longspur in Decline in Texas

Friday, January 26th, 2018
Smith's Longspur

Smith’s Longspur, Breeding male © Andy Johnson, MB, Churchill, July 2012

This is Passport to Texas

The Smith’s Longspur, a subarctic songbird, is the ultimate “snowbird”. It travels from Alaska and Canada to Northeast Texas where it spends the winter months.

It’s remarkable migration for a little bird the size of a chickadee. And he flies all the way by himself; he’s been doing this for millennia.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford says based on winter surveys, this grassland species is in decline.

Parks and Wildlife has a project where we go out and we survey for Smith’s Longspurs. There’s several staff involved where we go out every winter and we spend several days looking for Smith’s Longspurs, and talking to landowners. We’re trying to encourage them to leave native prairies for these species, and to be on the receiving grounds for this really neat wintering bird.

Changes in land use can cause a reduction in habitat for this migrating bird.

My hope for the Smith’s Longspur is that it could be with Bobwhite and other grassland birds, poster children for protecting prairies and protecting them in big swaths. A lot of these grassland birds need a lot of real estate. So, we can’t just do two acres here and five acres there. It needs to be hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of acres, for these birds to survive.

Landowners are key to the future of the Smith’s Longspur and other native grassland species.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.