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Smith's Longspur

Calcarius pictus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: CALCARIIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A brightly patterned songbird of the subarctic tundra, the Smith's Longspur winters only in the center of the United States.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
5.9–6.7 in
15–17 cm
Weight
0.7–1.1 oz
20–32 g
Other Names
  • Bruant de Smith (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Smith's Longspur is polygynandrous: each female pairs and copulates with two or three males for a single clutch of eggs, at the same time that each male pairs and copulates with two or more females.
  • Male Smith's Longspurs are not territorial, but instead compete for fertilizations by copulating with females frequently in order to dilute or displace sperm from other males.
  • Over a period of one week in June, a female Smith's Longspur will copulate over 350 times on average; this is one of the highest copulation rates of any bird.
  • "Longspur" refers to the elongated claw of the hind toe.

Habitat


Grassland

Breeds on dry, grassy, and hummocky tundra. Winters in fields with short grass, prairies, and grassy margins of airports.

Food


Insects

Seeds and insects.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–6 eggs
Condition at Hatching
Helpless.
Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Total population unknown and no long-term data available to determine trends in populations.

Credits

  • Briskie, J. V. 1993. Smith's Longspur (Calcarius pictus). In The Birds of North America, No. 34 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, DC: The American Ornithologists' Union.

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