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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

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.

Yard Map Birds Eye View
ML Essential Set


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.

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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.