Living Bird Magazine
Chestnut-collared LongspurCalcarius ornatus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Calcariidae
A true emblem of North America’s wild and windswept spaces, the Chestnut-collared Longspur is an integral part of the continent’s shortgrass prairies, rangelands, and desert grasslands. Breeding males are a bold mix of black belly, buffy throat, and chestnut nape, and they flaunt these colors as they perform fluttering display flights in early summer. In winter, males and females alike are grayish and inconspicuous as they forage in desert grasslands. Despite this species’ association with disturbed land, its population has declined by more than 80% since the 1960s.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Don’t look for Chestnut-collared Longspurs in lush areas; look for them where the grass is short and sparse, particularly areas that are grazed or have recently burned. In spring displaying males are visible a long way off as their black underparts contrast with the surrounding green of the prairie. Because they use disturbed habitat, they’re found in different locations from year to year. But finding one Chestnut-collared Longspur often means you will find others, clumped together to take advantage of this patch of temporarily perfect prairie.
- Escribano Collarejo (Spanish)
- Plectrophane à ventre noir (French)
- Cool Facts
- Historically, Chestnut-collared Longspurs bred in areas grazed by bison or burned by wildfires. In modern times, they can be found in shortgrass prairies where livestock graze, as well as other areas with very low vegetation such as cattle pastures and mowed airstrips.
- Though these small birds look like sparrows, they’re in a different taxonomic family. The name "longspur" refers to the elongated claw of the hind toe.