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McCown's Longspur

Rhynchophanes mccownii ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: CALCARIIDAE

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.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
5.5–6.3 in
14–16 cm
Weight
0.9–1 oz
25–29 g
Other Names
  • Bruant à collier gris, Bruant de McCown (French)
  • Arnoldo de McCown (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Longspur refers to the elongated claw of the hind toe.
  • McCown's Longspur territories are established and maintained by characteristic aerial displays, where the male flies up and sings while floating downward. The male may alight on the ground following a display, but more typically he rises up again and repeats the display. He may also sing from perches such as shrubs and rocks.

Habitat


Grassland

Sparse short grass plains, plowed and stubble fields, and bare or nearly bare ground.

Food


Seeds

Seeds and insects.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Condition at Hatching
Helpless.
Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

In 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.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

McCowan'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.

Credits

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