Chestnut-collared Longspur - Calcarius ornatus
State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Species has a negative short-term population trend and faces threats from loss of native prairie grassland habitats and altered frequency, intensity, and spatial distribution of grazing and fire regimes it is dependent on.
- Details on Status Ranking and Review
ScoreU - Unknown
ScoreG - 200,000-2,500,000 km squared (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Comment254,055 square kilometers based on Natural Heritage Program range maps that appear on the Montana Field Guide
Area of Occupancy
ScoreU - Unknown
ScoreD - Moderate Decline (decline of 25-50%)
CommentGrassland habitats have been heavily impacted since European arrival and species has probably declined by 25-50% over this time period.
ScoreD - Declining. Decline of 10-30% in population, range, area occupied, and/or number or condition of occurrences
CommentBBS data for Montana is of high credibility and shows a -3.3% decline per year or 29% decline per decade. Declines for virtually all surrounding states and provinces. Trends on North Valley County Point Counts between 2001 and 2008 showed a 1% per year increase in the percent of points the species was detected on and a 4% per year increase in the number of birds. Due to declining trends in all surrounding areas and Montana's large percentage of the global breeding population this is probably best recognized as a class D of decline.
ScoreB - Moderate and imminent threat. Threat is moderate to severe and imminent for a significant proportion (20-60%) of the population or area.
CommentLoss of native prairie is the greatest threat to the species, but altered grazing and fire regimes also represent threats. Breeding densities in grazed pastures are 9 times higher than in ungrazed pastures. Densities were higher in cropland than in adjacent tall dense idle CRP lands in North Dakota. Natural frequency, intensity, and spatial distribution of fire and grazing would probably promote species conservation.
SeverityModerate - Major reduction of species population or long-term degradation or reduction of habitat in Montana, requiring 50-100 years for recovery.
CommentSpecies seems capable of responding quickly to restored disturbances, but sod busting seems to be a long term challenge for recovery.
ScopeModerate - 20-60% of total population or area affected
CommentUncertain if 20% of grassland habitats would be lost in next 15 years, but species experts agree that the species faces threats across large portion of range.
ImmediacyModerate - Threat is likely to be operational within 2-5 years.
ScoreC - Not Intrinsically Vulnerable. Species matures quickly, reproduces frequently, and/or has high fecundity such that populations recover quickly (< 5 years or 2 generations) from decreases in abundance; or species has high dispersal capability such that extirpated populations soon become reestablished through natural recolonization (unaided by humans).
ScoreB - Narrow. Specialist. Specific habitat(s) or other abiotic and/or biotic factors (see above) are used or required by the Element, but these key requirements are common and within the generalized range of the species within the area of interest.
CommentNarrow Specialist. Dependent on shortgrass prairie (<12 inches with < 8 inches probably ideal for nesting). Prefer double the grass density that McCown's did in North Valley County monitoring points.
Raw Conservation Status Score
3.5 + 0.0 (geographic distribution) + 0.0 (environmental specificity) - 0.25 (short-term trend) - 0.75 (threats) = 2.5, but negative trends indicate that rounding to S2 is more justifiable than S3.
How Scores are Calculated
Medium-sized (length 13-16.5 cm; mass 17-23 g), terrestrial passerine, with small, acutely conical bill, long, pointed wings, and long, slender claw of hind toe (hence the name “longspur”). Four outer tail-feathers extensively white at base, forming distinctive pattern. In breeding (Definitive Alternate) male, crown and breast black, sometimes tipped with chestnut to varying degrees; cheek and upper throat yellowish buff, though some birds white in these areas; characteristic deep chestnut hindneck (collar); shoulder (lesser-coverts) black with white posterior trim (longest inner lesser-coverts). Breeding female overall grayish buff and streaked with dusky; sometimes shows dull, obscure chestnut collar and dark feathers on breast and belly. Winter (Definitive Basic) male similar to breeding male, except black on head and breast and chestnut on nape are “veiled” by buffy feather tips. Winter female similar to breeding female, but has buffy feather tips. (Bleho et al. 2015)
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
This is the smallest longspur. Chestnut-collared Longspurs are most likely to be confused with McCown’s Longspurs, but have smaller, darker bills and, seen in flight, a black triangular patch in the center of the tail with white outer tailfeathers, as contrasted with the more extensively white and inverted black “T” tail pattern of McCown’s. Breeding males of the two species have distinct plumages, with McCown’s lacking the eponymous chestnut collar. (Bleho et al. 2015)
Western Hemisphere Range
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
(direct evidence "B")
(indirect evidence "b")
No evidence of Breeding
(regular observations "W")
(at least one obs. "w")
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Migrates from breeding grounds in the northern Great Plains to wintering grounds in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico (Bleho et al. 2015).
Species prefers short-to-medium grasses that have been recently grazed or mowed. Prefers native pastures.
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (406) 444-3655.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
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- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Sparse and Barren Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
Diet consists of grass seeds, insects and spiders.
Males defend territories by performing aerial song displays.
The species nests and re-nests between May 6 and the first of August. Double brooded species with three to five eggs per brood. Incubation period 10 to 13 days. Young able to fly 9 to 14 days after hatch.
Conversion of native prairie to agriculture and urban development has eliminated the Chestnut-collared Longspur from much of its historical breeding range. Disturbed native grasslands – recently grazed, mowed, or burned – provide the open, sparse vegetation preferred by this species. (Bleho et al. 2015)
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Bleho, B., K. Ellison, D.P. Hill and L.K. Gould. 2015. Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/288 (Accessed 18 March 2016)
- Hill, D.P. and L.K. Gould. 1997. Chestnut-collared longspur (Calcarius ornatus). In: A. Poole, ed. The Birds of North America Online, Species Account Number 288. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY.
- Marks, J.S., P. Hendricks, and D. Casey. 2016. Birds of Montana. Arrington, VA. Buteo Books. 659 pages.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
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