Chestnut-collared Longspur
(Calcarius ornatus)


Picture of bird
© Alan MacKeigan
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Chestnut-collared Longspur breeds mainly on native grasslands in the southern prairie provinces, where results from the Breeding Bird Survey indicate that it has undergone a large decrease in numbers since about 1970. The decline is largely due to loss and degradation of native grassland habitats (COSEWIC 2009a). In 2009, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada assessed this species as Threatened because of this steep, ongoing population decline (COSEWIC 2009a). The species was listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2012. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2009 
SARA (Canada)Threatened2012 
IUCN (Global)Vulnerable2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow D2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Vulnerable2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseHighBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500,000 - 1,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between early May and mid-May and ends in late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

The primary cause of the population decline in the Chestnut-collared Longspur is habitat loss and degradation (Hill and Gould 1997, COSEWIC 2009a). Chestnut-collared Longspurs are area-sensitive (Davis 2004) and experience reduced productivity in non-native grasslands (Lloyd and Martin 2005). Grassland patches of a few hectares may be too small (Thompson et al. 2015). They avoid oil and gas developments, and avoid areas as far as 550m from well heads (Thompson et al. 2015). They prefer native grasslands with well-managed grazing pressure and can tolerate periodic burning and mowing outside the nesting season (Hill and Gould 1997). Heavy grazing can be detrimental to habitat quality (COSEWIC 2009a). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation & Stewardship