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Welcome to BNA Online, the leading source of life history information for North American breeding birds. This free, courtesy preview is just the first of 14 articles that provide detailed life history information including Distribution, Migration, Habitat, Food Habits, Sounds, Behavior and Breeding. Written by acknowledged experts on each species, there is also a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.
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In fall, this species moves south from its breeding grounds in the northern Great Plains and prairies of Canada to winter primarily in the short-grass prairie and desert grasslands of the southern United States and northern Mexico. Wintering flocks reaching densities as high as 166 individuals per hectare feed on grains such as wheat and on the seeds of native grasses.
The male Chestnut-collared Longspur defends its territory by performing Aerial Song Displays—flying upward to a height of 10 to 15 meters, then spreading its tail and singing during descent. Male plumage is conspicuous with black belly and cap, deep chestnut collar, and yellow cheek. The buff-colored female, by contrast, blends cryptically into its prairie habitat. Double-brooded and socially monogamous, this is one of many species in which extra-pair copulations are known to occur. Most extra-pair young are found in second-brood nests.
Some aspects of the biology and natural history of Chestnut-Collared Longspurs are reasonably well understood, including habitat associations, reproductive success, and response to management on breeding grounds. Many gaps remain, however, in our knowledge of this species’ migratory and wintering biology, physiology, area sensitivity, conspecific attraction, and responses to industrial disturbances.
Bleho, Barbara, Kevin Ellison, Dorothy P. Hill and Lorne K. Gould. 2015. Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/288