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McCown's Longspur


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A songbird of barren ground, the McCown's Longspur is found in shortgrass prairie and overgrazed pastures of the Great Plains.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized sparrow-like bird.
  • Short, thick, pointed bill.
  • Tail white with black "T" (black center and tip).
  • Breeding male has black crown and chest, gray belly, and rufous bar in wings.
  • Female and winter male grayish brown with dusky streaks on back and sides.

Immature Description

Similar to adult.

Range Map Help

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Field MarksHelp

  • Male breeding

    McCown's Longspur

    Male breeding
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Montana, June 2000
  • Female

    McCown's Longspur

    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Montana, June 2000

Similar Species

  • Horned Lark has thin bill, black face patch, black tail with white outer tail feathers.
  • Pipits have thin bills.
  • Chestnut-collared Longspur has black triangle on white tail; breeding male has black chest and belly and rufous nape.
  • Smith's Longspur has two white outer tail feathers and straight-sided dark middle of tail.
  • Lapland Longspur has little white on outer edge of tail, with straight sides to dark center of tail.