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Thick-billed Longspur

Silhouette LongspursLongspurs
Thick-billed LongspurRhynchophanes mccownii
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Calcariidae

Basic Description

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 Thick-billed Longspur
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Thick-billed 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

  • Escribano Piquigrueso (Spanish)
  • Plectrophane à ventre gris (French)
  • Cool Facts