Smith's Longspur

Calcarius pictus




Longspurs and Snow Buntings (Calcariidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff to light green marked with brown and lavender

Number of Eggs:

4 - 6

Incubation Days:

11 - 13

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with plant material.





Smith's Longspur: Medium-sized sparrow with yellow-brown streaked upperparts, black head with white eyebrow and ear patch, and yellow-brown nape, throat, and underparts. Wings have large white bars. Tail is black with white edges. Female and winter adult are duller, without black heads or white ear patches, and have white throats and faint spots on breast and sides.

Range and Habitat

Smith's Longspur: Breeds from northern and central Alaska across northern Canada to the Hudson Bay. Spends winters from southern Nebraska, through eastern Oklahoma, south to Texas, and east to the Mississippi River. Breeds on dry, hummocky areas of Arctic tundra, sometimes near forest edges. Spends winters on open fields.

Breeding and Nesting

Smith's Longspur: Four to six buff to light green eggs marked with lavender and brown are laid in a ground hollow lined with plant materials and feathers, and hidden beneath surrounding vegetation. Incubation ranges from 11 to 13 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Smith's Longspur: Eats seeds, insects, and spiders on tundra. In winter, feeds mostly on seeds; forages on the ground.

Readily Eats

Safflower, Apple Slices, Suet, Millet, Peanut Kernels, Fruit


Smith's Longspur: Song is a series of rapid, melodious warbles ending in "wee-che!" Call is a dry, tickling rattle.

Similar Species

Smith's Longspur: Lapland Longspur has red-brown nape, white underparts streaked with black, and lacks white wing patch.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
Ear patchX
Consists of soft, loose-webbed feathers on the side of the bird's head below and behind the eyes.
Also called the supercilicum or superciliary it is the arch of feathers over each eye.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X