WatchList Species Account for Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Chestnut-collared Longspur
Photo: Bill Schmoker

Breeding primarily in the short- and mixed-grass prairies of the Great Plains and prairie provinces of Canada, and foraging primarily on the ground, where it feeds on seeds and invertebrates, the Chestnut-collared Longspur was adapted to grassland recently grazed by bison or disturbed by fire. This has translated into its preferences for breeding habitat today — pastures and mowed areas such as airstrips, and native prairie habitats that are grazed or have been recently burned. It prefers dry areas with vegetation 8-12 inches in height.


The Chestnut-collared Longspur has declined considerably with the disappearance of native prairie, and is now gone from many areas where it was once abundant. The species nests in loose colonies; cowbirds do not have a major effect on its breeding success.


In winter this species moves south in flocks to the dry grasslands, deserts, fields, and plateaus of the south-central and southwestern U.S. and northern through central Mexico. Its winter range in the U.S. is thought to have contracted, due to its decrease in population size.


The key to restoring this species is to provide it with unplowed, uncultivated prairie.