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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Chestnut-collared Longspur -- Calcarius ornatus


RANGE: Breeds from southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, east of the Rockies to northeastern Colorado and western Kansas. Winters from northern Arizona, central and northern New Mexico, eastern Colorado, and central Kansas south into Mexico. Occurs rarely in California.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits shortgrass plains and prairies (cultivation has reduced breeding habitat.) In winter, tends to congregate on cultivated fields, and along edge areas, fencerows, and roadways.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Shortgrass prairie.

NEST: Builds nest on the ground, usually in a small depression in grass in uncultivated grassland with occasional low ridges and shallow areas. Seems to prefer nest sites in moist areas. In flooded meadows, places nest on an elevated site.

FOOD: Feeds primarily on grass seed and some insects, which are gleaned from the ground. During winter, feeds almost entirely on plant material.

REFERENCES: Forbush and May 1955.


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