- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Calcariidae
Despite being one of the most abundant breeding songbirds in North America, the Lapland Longspur is remarkably easy to overlook. It breeds in the remote High Arctic and winters in vast agricultural fields that are often devoid of other birdlife in that season. The Lapland Longspur with which most birders in North America are familiar is a small, streaky thing, but during the breeding season they are spectacular. The deep black masks and chestnut napes of the males, only slightly more subdued in females, make the Lapland Longspur difficult to mistake for any other species—a far cry from their nondescript winter garb.More ID Info
Find This Bird
The vast majority of North American birders encounter Lapland Longspurs in the winter months, when the birds filter down into southern Canada and the northern United States. Look for them on fallow agricultural fields, often with bare ground or sparse stubble, where they form large flocks along with American Pipits, Horned Larks, and Vesper and Savannah Sparrows. Snow cover often makes the birds easier to find, but scanning large, open fields for any sort of movement on the ground, or waiting for the birds to flush in tight, whirling flocks before resettling, can often be successful.
- Escribano lapón (Spanish)
- Plectrophane lapon (French)
- Cool Facts
- Lapland Longspurs breed in tundra habitats across the arctic. Their name refers to the Lapland region of Scandinavia, which is partly in Sweden and partly in Finland.
- Lapland Longspurs are busy. During summer, they eat an estimated 3,000 to 10,000 seeds and insects per day, plus feed their nestlings an additional 3,000 insects per day.
- The name “longspur” refers to the unusually long hind claw on this species and others in its genus.
- Of the four species of longspurs that can be found in North America, the Lapland Longspur is the only one that can be found outside of North America. Its range encircles the northern reaches of the Northern Hemisphere and it’s a common breeding bird in Eurasia, where it’s known as Lapland Bunting.
- Some winter flocks of Lapland Longspurs have been estimated to contain 4 million birds.
- The oldest recorded Lapland Longspur was at least 5 years old when it was recaptured and rereleased in Alaska.