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Chestnut-collared Longspur

Calcarius ornatus

Length: 6 inches Wingspan: 10.5 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Male (summer) black below, rusty nape, black and white striped head, white edging on tail

Chestnut-collared Longspur - Calcarius ornatusThe Chestnut-collared Longspur is a denizen of the short-grassed prairies of the Northern Great Plains.  Summer males (see photo to the right) are strongly marked, and are made even more identifiable in flight by the white underside of the tail with a bold black triangle.

Habitat: Breeds in and around short-grassed prairies.  May also be found in agricultural land when foraging, in migration, and in winter.

Diet: Seeds make up the overall majority of the diet throughout the year, and are the almost exclusive winter diet item.  Insects may make up to half of the summer diet.

Behavior: Walks and runs along the ground in search of insects, occasionally fluttering up a short distance to capture one in flight.  Also feeds on the ground for seeds.

Nesting: May through July

Song: High clear warbling that descends at becomes more harsh at the end.

Migration: Summers through the northern Great Plains.  Winters in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico.

Interactive eBird Map: Click for access to an interactive eBird map of Chestnut-collared Longspur sightings  

Similar Species: McCown's Longspur

Conservation Status: Has declined locally, but still generally widespread and common

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Chestnut-collared Longspur

2) BirdWeb - Chestnut-collared Longspur

3) Audubon Guide - Chestnut-collared Longspur

Photo Information: July 22nd, 2011 -- Harding County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Chestnut-collared Longspur - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common summer breeding resident in much of the state, although just a rare migrant in the southeastern corner of the state.

Additional Chestnut-collared Longspur Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Chestnut-collared Longspur - Calcarius ornatus