Chestnut-collared Longspur

photo by Phil Swanson

Calcarius ornatus
L 6″ (15 cm).

Song or calls:
Distinctive two-syllable “kittle,” repeated two to five times. Warbling flight song.

Description: White tail marked with blackish triangle. Breeding adult male has black-and-white head; buffy face; reddish-brown nape; whitish lower belly and undertail coverts; and distinctive black underparts. Some males may have chestnut wash on black breast. Upperparts are brown and sparrow-like; white shoulder patch. Breeding adult female similar to grayish-buffy sparrow; pale buffy face; may show some chestnut on nape; and blackish breast feathers edged in buff.

Behavior: Song is heard only on the breeding grounds. Often seen singly or in small flocks.

chesnut collared longspur
Habitat: Migrants and wintering birds are found in open grassy plains, grassy fields, and sometimes airports. Breeds in short-grass or cut mixed-grass prairies, and less often in disturbed habitats such as grazed pasture lands.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and winter visitor in western Nebraska, becoming rarer eastwardly. Breeds in northwestern corner of the state.

Fun Facts: Chestnut-collared Longspurs prefer to nest in short grasses, such as grazed, mowed, or burned areas.

female Chestnut-collared Longspur - photo by Phil Swanson Chestnut-collared Longspur - NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
(click image for larger view)