Skip to Content

McCown's Longspur

Silhouette LongspursLongspurs
McCown's LongspurRhynchophanes mccownii
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Calcariidae

Basic Description

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
image of range map for McCown's LongspurRange map provided by Birds of the WorldExplore Maps

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).

Other Names

  • Thick-billed Longspur
  • Escribano de McCown (Spanish)
  • Plectrophane de McCown (French)
  • Cool Facts

Need Bird ID Help? Try Merlin

Close Merlin