Family Longspurs (Calcariidae)

Least Concern

McCown's Longspur (Rhynchophanes mccownii)


French: Plectrophane de McCown German: Weißkehl-Spornammer Spanish: Escribano de McCown

Plectrophanes mccownii


, 1851,

high prairies of western Texas, USA


Has hybridized with Calcarius ornatus. Monotypic.


S Canada (SE Alberta and SC Saskatchewan) S in USA to Montana, W North Dakota, Wyoming, SW South Dakota, NC Colorado and W Nebraska. Winters in S USA (mainly in NW & SC Texas, Oklahoma Panhandle, E New Mexico and SE Arizona, rarely in S California, SE Colorado, W Kansas and E Texas) and N Mexico (S to N Durango, occasionally Zacatecas).

Descriptive notes

14–16 cm; male average 26·7 g, female average 24·7 g. Medium-sized short-tailed longspur with extensive white in tail, large conical bill. Male breeding... read more


Male territorial song, generally given in display-flight, sometimes from perch on fence or rock, a... read more


Breeds in sparse, arid short-grass prairie, typically in mix of short-grass species (e.g. ... read more

Food and feeding

On breeding grounds in Saskatchewan seeds of various sorts (e.g. Chenopodium, Carex, Avena and Triticum... read more


Season May–Jul; second brood often attempted, may be started as early as late Jun. Monogamous; rarely bigamous. Males arrive on breeding... read more


Migratory, moving through Great Plains. Spring migration from late Feb through Apr; males migrate... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common. Has reasonably large range, within which population estimated at 1,100,000 mature individuals. Although locally common in appropriate... read more

Recommended citation

Rising, J. (2019). McCown's Longspur (Rhynchophanes mccownii). 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 23 May 2019).