- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Calcariidae
Note: In August 2020, the American Ornithological Society voted to change the name of this species to Thick-billed Longspur. This name change will be reflected in the All About Birds page title, search results, and elsewhere on the site with the next eBird/Clements taxonomy update.
This longspur is a bird of wide-open spaces, the shortgrass prairies at the center of the North American continent. The handsome gray, white, chestnut, and black males deliver a delightful flight song while parachuting toward earth on upstretched wings and fanned tail. Unfortunately, little shortgrass prairie remains undisturbed or undeveloped, and this species has lost some 94% of its population in the last 50 years. They sometimes breed in grazed rangeland; in winter, flocks visit plowed fields, eating seeds and grains.More ID Info
Find This Bird
McCown’s Longspurs nest in some of the world’s most spectacular and most endangered prairies. In early spring (April), they can be difficult to track down as they rove over large areas. By late April and May they have paired, and the males' simple, cheerful flight song, given at dawn through midmorning, makes them much easier to find (and a joy to watch).
- Thick-billed Longspur
- Escribano de McCown (Spanish)
- Plectrophane de McCown (French)
- Cool Facts
- There are 4 species of longspurs in North America; the name refers to the elongated claw of the hind toe in these birds.
- 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.