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Thick-billed Longspur - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Steve Messick
Pawnee National Grassland, Weld Co., Colorado, USA, May 2004

Alternative name: McCown's Longspur

Rhynchophanes mccownii

Calcarius mccownii


Photo by eastwood
Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada, 2009

14–16 cm (5½-6¼ in). Sparrow-sized.
Breeding male: streaked above, with black crown, whitish face, and black "moustache"; gray below with bold black band across breast.
Female and winter male: duller and more streaked; best identified by tail pattern, which is largely white, with central pair of tail feathers black and with narrow black band at tip.

Similar Species

The long primary projection with four primaries visible past the folded tertials helps to distinguish this species from the similar Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus).


Immature female
Photo by jmorlan
Crissy Field, San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, October 2017

Breeding range from southern Alberta and Saskatchewan south to most of Montana (lacking only in very western part), very western North Dakota, and most of Wyoming and northern central Colorado.
Winters in very southern Arizona and New Mexico, the western half of Texas and northern central Mexico.
Vagrant away from breeding and wintering areas, with records in California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, British Columbia, Manitoba, Michigan, Missouri, Louisiana, Indiana, and Massachusetts.


This is a monotypic species1.

It was formerly placed in genus Calcarius


Arid plains, barren ground. They prefer areas with short grass.



The clutch consists of 3 or 4 pale green eggs, spotted with dark brown and black. The nest is a hollow scrape lined with fine grass and hair, on open ground.


Voice: a dry rattle; also a clear sweet warble given during a fluttering flight with wings raised high over back.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. 51st supplement to the AOU checklist of North American birds
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Nov 2017)

Recommended Citation

External Links

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