McCown's Longspur: Medium-sized sparrow with streaked gray upperparts, plain gray underparts, and darker breast. The head has a black crown, white face and throat, and a stout, heavy bill. White tail has diagnostic black inverted T. Wings have chestnut-brown bars. Black legs and feet.
Range and Habitat
McCown's Longspur: Breeds from southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan south to Wyoming, Colorado, and the western Dakotas. Spends winters from Colorado southward, mostly in western Oklahoma, northern and western Texas, and inland areas of northwestern Mexico. Found in shortgrass prairies, native grasslands, pastures, and agricultural areas.
"see, see, see me, see me, hear me, hear me, see", "churrip-churrip"
Longspurs and Snow Buntings (Calcariidae)
Most of the small birds such as finches, thrushes, sparrows, and buntings are members of the one hundred and eighteen families found in the largest taxonomic order of birds; the PASSERIFORMES (pronounced pas-ser-i-FOR-meez).
Longspurs and Snow Buntings are in the Calcariidae (pronounced cal-ca-RI-uh-dee) family. There are six species in three genera.
All six species of the Calcariidae family occur in North America, however the McKay’s Bunting is only found along the west coast of Alaska.
Longspurs can live in a wide variety of habitats and can eat between 3,000 and 10,000 seeds or insects per day.
Members of the Calcariidae family are small active birds with cone-shaped bills.
The longspurs have a wider range of color, from buff and chestnut to brown and black, along with black and white marked heads. The buntings are primarily black and white.
All of the Calcariidae occur in North America. Only the Lapland Longspur and the Snow Bunting occur in Eurasia as well. Members of this family can be found on tundra, mountains, beaches and grasslands.
Members of this family are short distance migrants.
Calcariidae eat both seeds and insects, they also gather in flocks in the winter.
McKay’s Bunting is listed by the IUCN as Near Threatened due to an estimated population of less than 6,000. The Chestnut-collared Longspur is also listed as Near Threatened from habitat loss.
Some winter flocks of Lapland Longspurs have been estimated at over four million birds.