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Lapland longspur

Lapland longspur
Breeding male
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Calcariidae
Genus: Calcarius
Species: C. lapponicus
Binomial name
Calcarius lapponicus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Lapland longspur (Calcarius lapponicus), also known as the Lapland bunting, is a passerine bird in the longspur family Calcariidae, a group separated by most modern authors from the Fringillidae (Old World finches).


  • Description 1
  • Distribution and habitat 2
  • Behaviour 3
    • Call 3.1
    • Breeding 3.2
    • Food Habits 3.3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


The Lapland longspur is a robust bird, with a thick yellow seed-eater's bill. The summer male has a black head and throat, white eyestripe, chestnut nape, white underparts, and a heavily streaked black-grey back. Other plumages have a plainer orange-brown head, a browner back and chestnut nape and wing panels.

Distribution and habitat

It breeds across Arctic Europe and Asia and in Canada and the northernmost USA. It is migratory, wintering in the Russian steppes, the southern USA, Northern Scandinavian arctic areas and down to coastal Southern Sweden, Denmark and Great Britain. This is the only Eurasian species of the longspur buntings, and while it probably did not evolve there, it has been present in Eastern Europe for at least about 30,000 years.[2]


Calcarius lapponicus - MHNT


The most common flight call is a hard "prrrrt" usually preceded by a more nasal "teeww". When breeding, it also makes a softer "duyyeee" followed by a pause and a "triiiuuu"; both sounds alternate.


It breeds in wet areas with birch or willow, and or bare mountains, and winters on cultivated land or coasts. The bird is often seen close to the tree line, and likes to feed in mixed-species flocks in winter. Its natural food consists of insects when feeding young, and otherwise seeds. The nest is on the ground. 2–4 eggs are laid.

Food Habits

The food habits of the Lapland longspur are quite simple: mostly seeds in winter and arthropods in the summer, when they are in activity.[3]

During the winter, the longspur feeds on seeds. They pick them on the ground, rarely feeding directly on plants. They will forage around the same area for a period varying between a few minutes and an hour, then fly away looking for a new foraging area. Their seed diet is composed mainly of seeds from grass, foxtail, cultivated millet, crabgrass and wheat.[3] During the breeding season, the birds migrate to the north, where their diet switches to arthropods. Nestlings are only fed arthropods, which also constitute the diet of the parents at that time of the year (June to July). The birds often catch insects in mid-air, but do forage through vegetation when climatic conditions prevent the insects from flying.[4] Longspurs can consume between 3000 and 10,000 prey items (insects or seeds) per day, depending on their energy needs. Dipteran larvae and adults form the major part of their insectivorous diet.[5]


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Tomek, Teresa; Bocheński, Zygmunt (2005). "Weichselian and Holocene bird remains from Komarowa Cave, Central Poland". Acta zoologica cracoviensia (Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals, Polish Academy of Sciences) 48A (1-2): 43–65.  
  3. ^ a b Gabrielson, Ira Noel (1924). "Food habits of some winter bird visitants". U.S. Department of Agriculture Bulletin (1249). 
  4. ^ Watson, Adam (1957). "Birds of the Cumberland Peninsula, Baffin Island". The Canadian Field-Naturalist 71 (3): 87–109. 
  5. ^ Custer, Thomas W.; Pitelka, Frank A. (1978). "Seasonal trends in summer diet of the Lapland longspur near Barrow, Alaska". The Condor 80 (3): 295–301.  

Further reading


  • Hussell, D. J. T., and R. Montgomerie. 2002. Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus). In The Birds of North America, No. 656 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.


  • Hunt KE. Ph.D. (1997). Testosterone, estrogen, and breeding behavior in an Arctic bird, the Lapland longspur. University of Washington, United States, Washington.
  • Male SK. M.Sc. (2004). Reproductive ecology of the Lapland longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) near a diamond mine. Trent University (Canada), Canada.
  • Mullie A. M.Sc. (1991). Song of the Lapland longspur (Calcarius lapponicus): Social factors contributing to dialect stability. Queen's University at Kingston (Canada), Canada.


Lapland longspur (Calcarius lapponicus)
  • Addis E, Wacker D, Clark A, Coverdill A, Meddle S, Walker B, Landys M, Reneerkens J & Wingfield JC. (2004). Influence of habitat condition on breeding in Plectrophenax nivalis and Calcarius lapponicus. Integr Comp Biol. vol 44, no 6. pp. 672–672.
  • Andena L. (1979). The Lapland Longspur Calcarius-Lapponicus near Milan Italy. Rivista Italiana di Ornitologia. vol 49, no 1. pp. 24–27.
  • Benes B. (1974). The Occurrence of Calcarius-Lapponicus in Czechoslovakia. Casopis Slezskeho Muzea Serie A Vedy Prirodni. vol 23, no 2. pp. 113–114.
  • Bennike O & Dyck J. (1986). A SUBFOSSIL LAPLAND BUNTING CALCARIUS-LAPPONICUS FEATHER FROM VOLVEDAL, NORTH GREENLAND. Ornis Scandinavica. vol 17, no 1. pp. 75–77.
  • Boal CW & Andersen DE. (2005). Microhabitat characteristics of Lapland Longspur, Calcarius lapponicus, nests at Cape Churchill, Manitoba. Can Field-Nat. vol 119, no 2. pp. 208–213.
  • Brugger F & Baula R. (1975). Calcarius-Lapponicus on the Orbe Plain. Ornithologische Beobachter. vol 72, no 3.
  • Catuneanu II. (1980). Presence of the Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus in Romania. Travaux du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle "Grigore Antipa". vol 21, pp. 249–252.
  • Crins B. (2004). Lapland Longspur feeding on "hidden" grains. Ontario Birds. vol 22, no 1. pp. 34–35.
  • Custer TW. (1973). Snowy Owl Predation on Lapland Longspur Nestlings Recorded on Film. Auk. vol 90, no 2. pp. 433–435.
  • Custer TW, Osborn RG, Pitelka FA & Gessaman JA. (1986). Energy Budget and Prey Requirements of Breeding Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus near Barrow Alaska USA. Arctic & Alpine Research. vol 18, no 4. pp. 415–428.
  • Custer TW & Pitelka FA. (1977). DEMOGRAPHIC FEATURES OF A LAPLAND LONGSPUR POPULATION NEAR BARROW, ALASKA. Auk. vol 94, no 3. pp. 505–525.
  • Custer TW & Pitelka FA. (1978). Seasonal Trends in Summer Diet of the Lapland Longspur near Barrow Alaska USA. Condor. vol 80, no 3. pp. 295–301.
  • Enderlein R. (1988). Observation of 2 Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus near Herzhausen-Edersee West Germany in the Cold Winter of 1986-87. Vogelkundliche Hefte Edertal. vol 14, pp. 19–21.
  • Endes M. (1977). The Lapland Longspur Calcarius-Lapponicus in Hungary. Allattani Kozlemenyek. vol 64, no 1-4. pp. 41–44.
  • Fernbach J. (1960). Occurrence of the Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus in Backa Topola. Larus. vol 14, no 155.
  • Fox AD, Francis IS, Madsen J & Stroud JM. (1987). The Breeding Biology of the Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus in West Greenland During Two Contrasting Years. Ibis. vol 129, no 4. pp. 541–552.
  • Fox AD, Francis IS, McCarthy JP & McKay CR. (1992). Body Mass Dynamics of the Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus in West Greenland. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift. vol 86, no 2. pp. 155–162.
  • Francis IS, Fox AD, McCarthy JP & McKay CR. (1991). Measurements and Moult of the Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus in West Greenland. Ringing & Migration. vol 12, no 1. pp. 28–37.
  • Gibson DD. (1986). Calcarius-Lapponicus-Coloratus in the Aleutian Islands Alaska USA. Auk. vol 103, no 3. pp. 635–636.
  • Hunt KE, Hahn TP & Wingfield JC. (1999). Endocrine influences on parental care during a short breeding season: testosterone and male parental care in Lapland longspurs (Calcarius lapponicus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol. vol 45, no 5. pp. 360–369.
  • Hunt KE & Wingfield JC. (1998). Exogenous estradiol and reproductive behavior in female lapland longspurs (Calcarius lapponicus). Am Zool. vol 38, no 5.
  • Hunt KE & Wingfield JC. (2004). Effect of estradiol implants on reproductive behavior of female Lapland longspurs (Calcarius lapponicus). Gen Comp Endocrinol. vol 137, no 3. pp. 248–262.
  • Hussell DJT. (1974). Photographic Records of Predation at Lapland Longspur and Snow Bunting Nests. Canadian Field Naturalist. vol 88, no 4. pp. 503–506.
  • Knochenmuss F. (1972). Calcarius-Lapponicus and Haliaetus-Albicilla on the Elbe near Prettin. Falke. vol 19, no 8.
  • Lapous E. (1988). The Lapland Longspur Calcarius-Lapponicus in Sarthe First Case of Wintering in Continental France. Alauda. vol 56, no 4. pp. 437–438.
  • Lee JC. (1978). LAPLAND LONGSPUR IN SOUTHEASTERN MEXICO. Condor. vol 80, no 4. pp. 452–453.
  • Lenz M. (1972). On the Occurrence of Calcarius-Lapponicus in the Area of Berlin. Ornithologische Mitteilungen. vol 24, no 8. pp. 171–172.
  • Madsen J. (1982). Timing of Breeding and Reproductive Success in a Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus Population in Eqalungmiut-Nunaat West Greenland. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift. vol 76, no 3-4. pp. 137–145.
  • McLaughlin RL & Montgomerie RD. (1985). Brood Division by Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus. Auk. vol 102, no 4. pp. 687–695.
  • McLaughlin RL & Montgomerie RD. (1985). Flight Speeds of Central Place Foragers Female Lapland Longspur Calcarius-Lapponicus Feeding Nestlings. Animal Behaviour. vol 33, no 3. pp. 810–816.
  • McLaughlin RL & Montgomerie RD. (1989). BROOD DISPERSAL AND MULTIPLE CENTRAL PLACE FORAGING BY LAPLAND LONGSPUR PARENTS. Behav Ecol Sociobiol. vol 25, no 3. pp. 207–215.
  • McLaughlin RL & Montgomerie RD. (1989). EARLY NEST DEPARTURE DOES NOT IMPROVE THE SURVIVAL OF LAPLAND LONGSPUR CHICKS. Auk. vol 106, no 4. pp. 738–741.
  • Mueller H, Ackermann G & Sadlik J. (1984). Breeding Period Observations of Anthus-Campestris Saxicola-Torquata and Calcarius-Lapponicus in the Subalpine Regions of the Riesengebirge Krkonose Czechoslovakia. Beitraege zur Vogelkunde. vol 30, no 4-5. pp. 320–322.
  • Orr CD, Gillis DJ & Valdron LG. (1980). Snow Buntings Plectrophenax-Nivalis Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus and Other Passerines in Davis Strait and Labrador Sea Canada 1977–1979. Canadian Field Naturalist. vol 94, no 2. pp. 185–187.
  • Ouellet H. (1991). SAVANNAH SPARROW ATTENDS NEST OF LAPLAND LONGSPUR. Bird Behaviour. vol 9, no 1-2. pp. 30–33.
  • Rucner D. (1970). Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus in the Zagreb Environs. Larus. vol 20, no 97.
  • Schekkerman H. (1989). Autumn Migration and Biometrics of Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus at Castricum Noord-Holland Netherlands. Limosa. vol 62, no 1. pp. 29–34.
  • Schiehmann H. (1973). Calcarius-Lapponicus in the Neuwieder Basin. Emberiza. vol 2, no 4. pp. 189–190.
  • Sean KM & Erica N. (2005). Impacts of roads associated with the Ekati Diamond Mine(TM), Northwest Territories, Canada, on reproductive success and breeding habitat of Lapland Longspurs. Canadian Journal of Zoology. vol 83, no 10. p. 1286.
  • Seastedt TR. (1980). Diets of Young Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus in Arctic and Subarctic Alaska USA. Condor. vol 82, no 2. pp. 232–233.
  • Seastedt TR & Maclean SFJ. (1977). Calcium Supplements in the Diet of Nestling Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus near Barrow Alaska. Ibis. vol 119, no 4. pp. 531–533.
  • Seastedt TR & Maclean SFJ. (1980). Polygyny and Nest Spacing in Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus a Hypothesis. Animal Behaviour. vol 28, no 1. pp. 313–314.
  • Sedinger JS. (1986). Two Adult Male Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus Feed the Same Fledgling. Canadian Field Naturalist. vol 100, no 2. pp. 269–270.
  • Tomialojc L. (1970). Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus in Poland. Acta Ornithologica. vol 12, no 2. pp. 42–46.
  • Tryon PR & Maclean SF. (1980). Use of Space by Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus Breeding in Arctic Alaska USA. Auk. vol 97, no 3. pp. 509–520.
  • Vidal A. (1977). Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus on the Danube near Kiefenholz-Opf. Anzeiger der Ornithologischen Gesellschaft in Bayern. vol 16, no 2/3.
  • West GC & Peyton LJ. (1980). Fatty-Acids of Depot Lipids in Migrating Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus. Journal of Field Ornithology. vol 51, no 2. pp. 138–143.
  • West GC & Peyton LJ. (1980). Food Habits of Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus During Spring Migration in Southern Yukon Territory Canada. Canadian Field Naturalist. vol 94, no 4. pp. 451–454.
  • West GC, Peyton LJ & Irving L. (1968). Analysis of Spring Migration of Lapland Longspurs to Alaska USA Calcarius-Lapponicus-Alascensis. Auk. vol 85, no 4. pp. 639–653.
  • Williamson FSL & Emison WB. (1971). Variation in the Timing of Breeding and Molt of the Lapland Longspur Calcarius-Lapponicus in Alaska with Relation to Differences in Latitude. Bioscience. vol 21, no 12. pp. 701–707.
  • Wingfield JC, Suydam R & Hunt K. (1994). The adrenocortical responses to stress in snow buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) and Lapland longspurs (Calcarius lapponicus) at Barrow, Alaska. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology C Pharmacology Toxicology & Endocrinology. vol 108, no 3. pp. 299–306.
  • Wright JM. (1981). Response of Nesting Lapland Longspurs Calcarius-Lapponicus to Burned Tundra on the Seward Peninsula Alaska USA. Arctic. vol 34, no 4. pp. 366–369.
  • Yesou P. (1983). The Lapland Bunting Calcarius-Lapponicus in Brittany with a Discussion of Its Distribution and Migrations in France and the Rest of Europe. Alauda. vol 51, no 3. pp. 161–178.

External links

  • Calcarius lapponicus on Avibase
  • Lapland Longspur Species Account - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Calcarius lapponicusLapland Longspur - - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
  • Lapland Longspur videos, photos, and sounds at the Internet Bird Collection
  • Stamps (for Canada) with Circumpolar Range-Map at
  • Lapland Longspur photo gallery at VIREO (Drexel University)
  • Lapland Longspur images at Oriental Bird Images - A Database of the Oriental Bird Club (see pulldown menu at page bottom)
  • Calcarius lapponicusInteractive range map of at IUCN Red List maps
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