Family Longspurs (Calcariidae)

Least Concern

Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus)


French: Plectrophane lapon German: Spornammer Spanish: Escribano lapón

Fringilla lapponica


, 1758,



Geographical variation appears to be mainly clinal; proposed race subcalcaratus (described from Greenland) is treated as a synonym of nominate and kamtschaticus (E Kamchatka) as a synonym of coloratus. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. l. alascensis Ridgway, 1898 – Pribilof Is, N & W Alaska (including St Lawrence I, Aleutian Is, Semidi Is, Kodiak I and Middleton I) and NW Canada (N Yukon and NW Northwest Territories); winters in extreme S Canada (S British Columbia) and USA (W Montana and S South Dakota S to NE California, N Arizona and N Texas, casually S to C California and E to Ohio).
  • C. l. lapponicus (Linnaeus, 1758) – N Canada (S to C Nunavut, N Ontario, N Quebec and N Labrador) and W & S Greenland, and from W & N Fennoscandia E across N Siberia (including S third of Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, New Siberian Is and Wrangel I) to Bering Strait; winters in USA (Colorado E to Wisconsin, S to N Texas, Tennessee and Delaware, casually Louisiana and Florida) and SE Canada (S Ontario, S Quebec and C Nova Scotia), and in Palearctic on S North Sea shores, CE Europe and E across C Asia to Russian Altai, Mongolia and N China.
  • C. l. coloratus Ridgway, 1898 – E Siberia around N portion of Shelekhova Gulf, on Kamchatka Peninsula and Commander Is; winters in E China S to R Yangtze (and occasionally Sakhalin, Korea and Japan).
  • Descriptive notes

    15·5–17 cm; 22·5–35 g. A fairly large and stocky emberizid with relatively short tail, deep-based, short and triangular bill, long wing (long... read more


    Song, usually in flight, also from ground, a pleasant warble, e.g. “vree didi vreer di vridi... read more


    Breeds in tundra at edge of tree-line, where found in sedges (Carex) and grasses (Poaceae... read more

    Food and feeding

    In breeding season, mainly invertebrates (especially Diptera), especially craneflies (Tipulidae) in Alaska. Opportunistically feeds on... read more


    Median dates for start of egg-laying range from 30th May to 27th Jun, depending on locality (and at any given site clutch initiation tends... read more


    Migratory, moving both diurnally and nocturnally. Spring migration from early Feb to early Mar in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Abundant or very common in appropriate habitat. Has extremely large circumpolar range, within which total population estimated as being as high as... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 April 2019).