Smith's LongspurCalcarius pictus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Calcariidae
The male Smith’s Longspur is a lovely caramel-colored songbird with a striking black-and-white head pattern. Females and immatures are buffy and finely streaked, with an echo of the male's head pattern. The slight but sharply pointed bill and the black tail with white outer feathers are distinctive features. Smith's Longspurs breed in tundra and winter in grasslands and fields in the east-central United States. These birds have an unusual mating system in which both males and females often have multiple mates at the same time.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Smith’s Longspurs are hard to locate on their remote arctic nesting grounds, as they move around frequently and their song is quite similar to an American Tree or Fox Sparrow, so it's easy to be fooled! Smith’s Longspurs are a bit easier to find in their winter range when flocks show up in pastures, agricultural fields, and the grassy fields of small airports, though the male’s plumage is less impressive then.
- Escribano de Smith (Spanish)
- Plectrophane de Smith (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.
- In 1831, naturalist William Swainson described the Smith’s Longspur to science, based on a specimen collected by John Richardson in Saskatchewan. Swainson called it the "Painted Bunting." However, this Painted Bunting had already been described by Linnaeus in 1758. John James Audubon renamed Swainson's bird the Smith's Longspur in 1844, after his friend Gideon B. Smith of Baltimore.
- The Smith’s Longspur has a complicated personal life. Described in scientific terms, it's "polygynandrous": both females and males have multiple mates each breeding season.
- During the breeding season, a female Smith’s Longspur may mate more than 350 times in a week—one of the highest copulation rates of any bird.