McCown's Longspur Life History


Habitat GrasslandsSparse short grass plains, plowed and stubble fields, and bare or nearly bare ground.Back to top


Food SeedsSeeds and insects.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:2-6 eggs
Condition at Hatching:Helpless.
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Behavior Ground ForagerIn the Aerial Display, the male flutters upward to a height of about 10 meters (33 feet) and then descends, teetering on outstretched wings held back to display the vivid white lining, with its white-and-black-patterned tail fanned, and issuing a tinkling, warbling song.Back to top


Conservation DecliningMcCowan's Longspur declined by over 4% per year between 1966 and 2014, resulting in a cumulative decline of 88%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 600,000 with 77% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 23% breeding in Canada, and 42% wintering in Mexico. The species rates a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. McCowan's Longspur is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species and is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. Back to top


North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center (2014b). Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

With, Kimberly A. (2010). McCown's Longspur (Rhynchophanes mccownii), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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