|Conservation status||Species is far less numerous today than at beginning of 20th century, probably owing to loss of habitat. In recent decades, population probably stable or possibly increasing.|
|Family||Longspurs and Snow Buntings|
|Habitat||Plains, prairies. Breeds in rather dry open prairie with short grass, sometimes with patches of open ground or low cactus. Winters on similar shortgrass plains, also on bare soil such as dry lake beds, plowed fields. At all seasons, favors shorter grass and more open ground than that chosen by Chestnut-collared Longspurs occurring in same region.|
Forages while running and walking on ground, picking up items from soil or from plant stems. After flushing insects (such as grasshoppers) from ground, will chase actively, sometimes pursuing them in short flights. Except during nesting season, usually forages in flocks.
2-4, sometimes 5, perhaps rarely 6. White to pale olive, marked with brown and lavender. Incubation is by female only, about 12 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 10 days after hatching; can run well at this stage but fly only poorly until a few days later. May remain with parents for at least another 3 weeks.
Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 10 days after hatching; can run well at this stage but fly only poorly until a few days later. May remain with parents for at least another 3 weeks.
Mostly seeds and insects. Seeds make up more than half of summer diet of adults, and most of winter diet; included are seeds of grasses, weeds, sedges, shrubs. Also eats many insects, especially in summer, including grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, moths, and others. Young are fed mostly insects.
Male defends nesting territory by performing flight song display, flying up to about 30' and then sailing or gliding down, with wings outstretched and tail fanned, while singing. Will also fight aggressively with intruding males. In courtship, male may circle female on ground, raising one wing high to show off white wing-lining, while singing. Nest site is on open ground, usually placed very close to a large grass clump or weed, small shrub, dried cow manure, or other object. Nest is built by female in slight depression in ground, an open cup made mostly of grass, sometimes with weeds, rootlets, and lichens added, lined with fine grass, plant fibers, animal hair.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migrates in flocks. Northward migration begins by early spring; southward migration spread over much of fall. Rarely strays west to Pacific Coast, accidental east of Great Plains.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsDry rattle; also a clear sweet warble given during a fluttering flight with wings raised high over back.
Learn more about this sound collection.