|Rhynchophanes mccownii||Order: Passeriformes||Family: Calcariidae (Longspurs and Snow Buntings)|
This lovely little longspur breeds in the shortgrass prairies at the center of the continent; so little of this prairie habitat remains that this longspur has lost 94 percent of its population in the past 50 years. Males produce a delightful flight song while parachuting toward earth on upstretched wings and fanned tail. My only photo was taken during a spring blizzard in Colorado.
The nomenclature committee of the American Ornithological Society has changed the name to the Thick-billed Longspur. For many reasons, a group of ornithologists and birders are trying hard to get the names changed on all birds named for individual people; McCown was a U.S. soldier when he was stationed in Texas; when he was shooting larks, he killed one or two oddballs and sent them to a friend. Many birds are named for non-ornithologists who killed birds and sent them to ornithologists who named new discoveries for them. But in this case, McCown left the U.S. Army to join the Confederacy, fighting to protect the institution of slavery as well as taking up arms against the institution that made his ornithological “discoveries” possible in the first place.