Most of the North American population funnels down during fall migration through the Great Plains, where flocks numbering in the hundreds of thousands have been observed. Lapland Longspurs breed in tundra habitats across the arctic. Wings relatively long. Male longspurs in breeding plumage are striking birds, with a black face and throat, rusty nape, and a bold white stripe separating these two areas. Feather Vane Length. Lapland Longspur - Calcarius lapponicus - Adult - Female Scan ID: 61034 . In addition to the usual suspects, I was lucky to come across one of my favorite birds: a ground-hugging, sparrow-like critter called the Lapland longspur (“Longspur” because this species sports a very long hind toe, an adaptation to walking on the ground). Longspurs and Snow Buntings(Order: Passeriformes, Family:Calcariidae). Breeds in Arctic tundra in wet meadows, grassy tussocks, and scrub. Keep your eye out for this visitor from the far north. Personally, I can only recall seeing longspurs twice previously on the Vineyard, both times solo birds in November, and both, coincidentally, at Katama Farm. Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. FEATHER SCAN DATA. Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds. Longspurs and Snow Buntings(Order: Passeriformes, Family:Calcariidae). For some reason, despite its overall abundance, this bird does not often make it to the Vineyard. But it gave an unmistakable longspur call: A metallic, rattling “Brrrrt!” that instantly grabbed my attention. In mild winters, longspurs may hang around for the Christmas Bird Count, and even into January or February; spring sightings occur regularly in Massachusetts, but are decidedly unusual on the Island. The name “longspur” refers to the unusually long hind claw on this species and others in its genus. Winters in open habitats including used agricultural fields, turf farms, and coastal dunes. Lapland longspurs are less common in New England, though they’re a regular fall and winter feature on shorelines and pastures. The species shows a clear seasonal pattern here, with most records coming from late fall or early winter. Flushed birds often fly quite high and settle far from their original position. During summer, they eat an estimated 3,000 to 10,000 seeds and insects per day, plus feed their nestlings an additional 3,000 insects per day. If I were a longspur, heading south to a region with snow-free real estate would be the priority, or at least with shallow enough snow so windswept spots are blown clear; these are seed-eating birds, and bare ground surely makes foraging much easier. But if you put in your time in the field in late autumn and scrutinize flocks of open-country birds, you may eventually catch up with this unusual visitor from the far north. Once eggs are laid, incubation proceeds quickly by songbird standards, and the young, once hatched, mature enough to leave the nest in only about 10 days. Presumably a good portion of the population meanders south of our latitude during the winter, then heads north on a more direct route toward the breeding grounds, usually bypassing the Island. Sings a series of loud, squeaky, jingling notes from low perches near the ground or during flight. Chunky bird with a stout bill. Some winter flocks of Lapland Longspurs have been estimated to contain 4 million birds. Males stake out snow-free patches of ground and sing a twittery song to attract a mate. Chunky grassland bird with a stout bill. It is an open cup made from coarse sedge, lined with fine sedge and grass, feathers, or hair. 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.

The bird was on the dirt track that runs across the main pasture at Katama Farm, where it was feeding on grass seeds. A look at the bird through binoculars showed a rectangular rusty patch on the wing, a valuable field mark for this species in all plumages. Nonbreeding birds have warm brown patches on cheeks, crown, sides of neck. 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. Nonbreeding birds are streaked above with a black border around the ear, streaked flanks, and a dark often smudgy breast band. Feather Metadata. Their name refers to the Lapland region of Scandinavia, which is partly in Sweden and partly in Finland. Breeds in wet tundra meadows. And my bird was drabber still, a first-year female bird that I nearly dismissed as a boring ol’ sparrow. But when this species visits us in the fall and winter, even the males are much duller, with just hints of that bold head pattern. You can’t screw around at high latitudes; summer is very, very short! 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. Chunky sparrowlike bird. Females are similar but lack the extensive black. While they may make it as far south as the Gulf Coast, they generally have the sense to travel no farther than they need to; migrating is perilous and energy-intensive. — Matt Pelikan On Sunday, Nov. 8, I took advantage of ridiculously fine weather for a quick birding and bugging trip to Katama. Birders who visit the tundra in summer will find Lapland Longspurs very common almost everywhere there, the bright males singing their short warbling songs from hummocks or rocks or while flying. 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. Perhaps they object to flying over water. Breeds in arctic tundra. So this is not a species I can give you clear instructions on how to find. Females are similar but lack the extensive black. Of the four species of longspurs that can be found in North America, the Lapland Longspur is the only one that can be found outside of North America. Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds. Similar looking birds to Lapland Longspur: Chestnut-collared Longspur Breeding male, Chestnut-collared Longspur Nonbreeding, Smith's Longspur Breeding male, Smith's Longspur Nonbreeding, McCown's Longspur Breeding male, McCown's Longspur Female, Vesper Sparrow Adult/immature, Horned Lark Female Found throughout the Arctic zones of Europe, Asia, and North America in summer, this is one of the most abundant breeding birds of the far North. First-year female Lapland longspur bird in Katama. Breeding males have a bold black face bordered by a swooping yellow-white line and a rich rufous patch on the back of the neck. Breeding female has rufous back; black wing-tips. See more images of this species in Macaulay Library. On Sunday, Nov. 8, I took advantage of ridiculously fine weather for a quick birding and bugging trip to Katama. A dark line outlines the ear and the flanks are streaked. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. 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 female incubates the 4 to 6 eggs alone for 10 to 14 days. Feather Total Length. The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. The nest, built by the female, is on the ground, usually by a small hummock of sedge, grass, or moss. Note rusty patch in the wings. Like pipits, horned larks, and snow buntings, Lapland longspurs invariably occur in open habitats. Its range encircles the northern reaches of the Northern Hemisphere and it’s a common breeding bird in Eurasia, where it’s known as Lapland Bunting. The oldest recorded Lapland Longspur was at least 5 years old when it was recaptured and rereleased in Alaska. Observers who have written about this bird report that it often nests at very high density in this range. Its behavior was surprisingly mouselike: It crouched low to the ground as it scurried along, plunging through and sometimes even under the bent-over grass. Both nonbreeding sexes have rufous coloration on back. Arriving on their breeding grounds in late May or early June, they get right to work. While pure longspur flocks do occur here, much more typical is finding a longspur or two mixed in with a flock of one of those other open-land species. Male and female Lapland longspurs stand on the ground. In winter, males and females retain an echo of face pattern but lack the blocks of color, becoming overall pale brown and streaked. In winter, males and females retain an echo of face pattern but lack the blocks of color, becoming overall pale brown and streaked. They form large, nomadic flocks in the winter. Breeding males have a black crown, face, and bib and a rusty nape. When you add it all up, this makes it a very numerous species. Breeding males have a bold black face bordered by a swooping yellow-white line and a rich rufous patch on the back of the neck. The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation.

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