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Lapland Longspur

Silhouette LongspursLongspurs
Lapland LongspurCalcarius lapponicus
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Calcariidae

Basic Description

Despite being one of the most abundant breeding songbirds in North America, the Lapland Longspur is remarkably easy to overlook. It breeds in the remote High Arctic and winters in vast agricultural fields that are often devoid of other birdlife in that season. The Lapland Longspur with which most birders in North America are familiar is a small, streaky thing, but during the breeding season they are spectacular. The deep black masks and chestnut napes of the males, only slightly more subdued in females, make the Lapland Longspur difficult to mistake for any other species—a far cry from their nondescript winter garb.

More ID Info
image of range map for Lapland Longspur
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

The vast majority of North American birders encounter Lapland Longspurs in the winter months, when the birds filter down into southern Canada and the northern United States. Look for them on fallow agricultural fields, often with bare ground or sparse stubble, where they form large flocks along with American Pipits, Horned Larks, and Vesper and Savannah Sparrows. Snow cover often makes the birds easier to find, but scanning large, open fields for any sort of movement on the ground, or waiting for the birds to flush in tight, whirling flocks before resettling, can often be successful.

Other Names

  • Escribano Lapón (Spanish)
  • Plectrophane lapon (French)
  • Cool Facts