Longspurs (Calcariidae)

Lapland Longspur

Calcarius lapponicus

Male's melodious song sounds something like the Bobolink's. It is given during flight display (first example) or from perches on rock or hummocks in the tundra (second and third examples). Song varies widely, but the males in one locality use the same song. This species has many calls. We found a female making this call while moving around on the ground but apparently not foraging. A nearby male made some similar calls and its rarely heard whisper song. The whisper song is simply a very quiet version of the primary song given in the presence of a female before nest building. (Nome, Alaska)
Habitat: Breeds in grassy tundra; winters in fields with short grass, fallow farm fields, beaches.

Smith's Longspur

Calcarius pictus

Male's sweet song is reminiscent of the chestnut-sided and yellow warbler's songs. Each male has only one song which the same as or similar to the song of other males in his locality. Songs vary among localities. Males sing from the ground, hummocks, and other perches. Males do not defend territories, and the song may serve to attract females for copulation. They do not have a flight display. Rattle call is given from the ground and while flying. It probably serves as alarm, aggression or contact call, depending on context. (Denali Highway, Alaska)
Habitat: Breeds on moist subarctic tundra with very low vegetation and on sedge meadows at the northern edge of the tree line.

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Calcarius ornatus

Male's musical song is reminiscent of the western meadowlark but is higher pitched. Song varies among birds. Males sing from the ground, from perches such as fences, and during display flights. Tri-ri-rip call is given during aggressive interactions with other males and in other situations where the bird is probably agitated or alarmed. (Clay County, Minnesota).
Habitat: Recently grazed or mowed prairie or fields.

McCown's Longspur

Rhynchophanes mccownii

Among the longspurs, McCown's has the most elegant display flight. The male flies up 5 - 10 m, locks his wings in a vee, spreads his tail exposing the black-on-white T, and glides slowly to the ground while singing his tinkling, jumbled song. Males also sing simpler versions of their songs from the ground and low perches (two songs each by two perched birds.) (Valley County, Montana)
Habitat: Semi-arid short-grass prairie with sparse vegetation; over-grazed pastures.