Lapland Longspur

General description.

In breeding season, the "Lapland Longspur" is streaked with brown upperparts and whitish underparts. Flanks are also streaked. His tail is dark with white outermost feathers. His legs are long and dark. The name, "longspur", refers to the long claw on the hind tow of the species.

Female appearance.

The female has a brownish head and lacks the bold streaking patterns of the male. The winter male resembles her.

Flight pattern.

The "Lapland Longspur" is a strong flying sparrowlike bird. Often a whole flock will dart into the air from the ground, landing again a few hundred yards away.

Breeding habits.

When courting, the male may fly up thirty feet into the air, set his wings at an angle and float down while singing a liquid serenade.

Calls or song.

The male advertises and defends his territory with a series of rapid squeaky, jingling notes: "twee-twittle-uh-seetoo-twittle-uh-teeah-teeah, zing zizeleeaw" etc. While foraging for food, these birds give brief calls, "chioo" and "kittoo" to keep in contact.

Population and distribution.

The range of the "Lapland Longspur", or "Alaska Longspur" is circumpolar. They breed in the Arctic tundra, the Aleutians and Arctic islands to northern Quebec, favoring wet, hummocky areas. In winter they populate the southern areas of the country, California to Texas as well as New York. They feed on the ground and are almost invisible.

Nesting habits.

These longspurs make their nests on the ground in a grass-lined hollow, which is concealed under a camouflage of higher grass. There the female lays 4-5 pale olive green eggs, heavily spotted with brown and purple.
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