Lapland Longspur

Calcarius lapponicus
A Lapland Longspur specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A sparrow-sized (6 ½ inches) songbird, the Lapland Longspur is among the most striking birds in much of its range. Breeding males may be identified by their black face and bib, yellowish-orange bill, reddish-brown collar, white eye-stripe, and white tail-edges. Females have similarly-patterned plumage but are duller and more streaked. Both sexes are much duller in their winter plumages than they are in summer. The Lapland Longspur is found widely across the Northern Hemisphere, and is the only longspur to occur outside of North America. In North America, this species breeds across the high arctic from Alaska east to Greenland and south to the Hudson Bay. In winter, Lapland Longspurs may be found in the greatest numbers on the Great Plains south of the Canadian border, with smaller numbers in the northeast and along the Pacific coast. In the Old World, this species breeds in Scandinavia and Russia, wintering as far south as Britain, Central Asia, and East Asia. Lapland Longspurs breed on tundra, particularly in areas that are wet or well vegetated. In winter, this species inhabits a number of open habitat types, including grasslands, fields, and lakeshores. Lapland Longspurs primarily eat seeds, but may eat insects and other invertebrates when available, especially during the breeding season. Due to its remote breeding habitat, most birdwatchers never see Lapland Longspurs during the summer. In winter, this species may be observed in large flocks foraging for food on grasslands or fields. Longspurs may be seen walking or running on the ground as well as in the air flying between feeding areas. This species is primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Very rare and irregular winter visitor, December through February. Usually found in short-grass fields and around airports. Females lack the black bib of the male.

Specimen Information

Date:  4/15/1889
Collected By:  EA Mearns
Locality:  Fort Snelling, MN
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  235442

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC64744 Calcarius lapponicus (Lapland Longspur)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC64745 Calcarius lapponicus (Lapland Longspur)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC64746 Calcarius lapponicus (Lapland Longspur)