Scientific Name: Calcarius ornatus
Taxonomy Group: Birds
COSEWIC Range: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2019
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: A2bc+4bc
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This striking grassland songbird is only found on North America’s Great Plains. It has experienced a population decline of more than 50% over the past decade, and about 95% since 1970. The Canadian breeding range has contracted to the south and west since the 1970s. The primary threat is degradation and fragmentation of native grasslands, especially through conversion to agriculture. Ongoing loss of habitat in the core wintering region of northern Mexico is currently believed to be of greatest concern, but declines in habitat extent and quality are also an issue in Canada, where grassland parcels of at least 40 hectares are generally required for breeding.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in November 2009. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2019.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2012-06-20
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
The Chestnut–collared Longspur is a medium–sized songbird. It is the smaller of two breeding prairie grassland longspur species and can be distinguished by the black triangular patch in the centre of the tail, white lesser coverts and extensive white on the outer tail coverts. Chestnut–collared Longspurs have a sweet warbling song, which is initially high and clear but ends in lower, buzzy notes. Males have a distinctive aerial display, which occurs lower to the ground than is the case in the McCown’s Longspur. (Updated 2017/05/30)
Distribution and Population
Chestnut–collared Longspurs breed in the short– and mixed–grass prairie regions of the northern Great Plains (prairies) of Canada and the United States. During the non–breeding season, they occur in the southern United States (western Oklahoma to southeastern Arizona) and northern Mexico. (Updated 2017/05/30)
A native prairie grassland specialist, the Chestnut–collared Longspur typically breeds in recently grazed or mowed, arid, short– or mixed–grass prairie. The species prefers short vegetation (less than 20–30 cm high), but will breed in tall–grass prairie if it is grazed or mowed. Areas with low sward densities and minimal litter depth are preferred. The topography preferred by this species is level to rolling uplands (mixed–grass and short–grass) and moist lowlands. Optimal grassland habitat in Canada for the Chestnut–collared Longspur is being fragmented by energy sector activity and other development and is being converted to agricultural use. The remaining fragmented grassland is often ungrazed (idle) and therefore unsuitable for breeding. (Updated 2017/05/30)
Chestnut–collared Longspurs are monogamous and have small, often clumped territories. Following arrival on the breeding areas, males (which arrive before females) establish breeding territories generally by early to mid–May (Alberta). Females excavate and build a nest in the ground and lay 3–5 eggs which are then incubated for 10–12.5 days by the female; the male guards the nest and is active in predator defence. Both parents feed the young, which fledge after 10 days, following which they are fed by the male for a further two weeks; immature birds form flocks by late June. Generation time is likely two to three years. Nest predation accounts for a high degree of egg and nestling mortality. (Updated 2017/05/30)
The greatest threat to the Chestnut–collared Longspur has been the loss and fragmentation of native prairie grassland. The remaining patches may offer suboptimal breeding conditions for the longspurs. Given their area sensitivity, grassland patches of a few hectares are likely too small for the species to persist. Additionally, idling of pastureland and habitat fragmentation and disturbance from oil and gas developments may impact Chestnut–collared Longspur populations. (Updated 2017/05/30)
The Chestnut-collared Longspur is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
30 record(s) found.
- Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Status Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (2 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Action Plans (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Permits and Related Agreements (14 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (2 record(s) found.)
- Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation
COSEWIC Status Reports
Response Statement - Chestnut-collared Longspur (2010-12-02)This species is a native prairie grassland specialist that occurs in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The species has suffered severe population declines since the late 1960’s and the results of several surveys suggest that the declines have continued over the last decades albeit at a slower rate. The species is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation from road development associated with the energy sector.
Response Statement - Chestnut-collared Longspur (2020-12-02)This striking grassland songbird is only found on North America’s Great Plains. It has experienced a population decline of more than 50% over the past decade, and about 95% since 1970. The Canadian breeding range has contracted to the south and west since the 1970s. The primary threat is degradation and fragmentation of native grasslands, especially through conversion to agriculture. Ongoing loss of habitat in the core wintering region of northern Mexico is currently believed to be of greatest concern, but declines in habitat extent and quality are also an issue in Canada, where grassland parcels of at least 40 hectares are generally required for breeding.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 (2010-09-03)Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. During the past year, COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings and reviewed the status of 79 wildlife species (species, subspecies, populations). During the meeting of November 2009, COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of the status of 28 wildlife species. COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of an additional 51 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations) during their April 2010 meeting. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2009-2010 reporting period include the following: Extirpated: 6 Endangered: 39 Threatened: 16 Special Concern: 17 Data Deficient: 1 This report transmits to the Minister the status of 46 species newly classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern, fulfilling COSEWIC’s obligations under SARA Section 24 and 25. A full detailed summary of the assessment for each species and the reason for the designation can be found in Appendix I of the attached report. Since its inception, COSEWIC has assessed 602 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 262 Endangered, 151 Threatened, 166 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated. In addition, 13 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct. Also, to date, 46 wildlife species have been identified by COSEWIC as Data Deficient and 166 wildlife species were assessed as Not at Risk. This year has been a particularly productive year for COSEWIC’s Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee. In April 2010 COSEWIC approved the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Process and Protocol Guidelines, providing clear and agreed principles for the gathering of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to carry out COSEWIC functions as required under Section 15(2) of SARA (See Appendix III of the attached report). We are grateful for the rich and enthusiastic contribution made by community elders and experts in helping the ATK Subcommittee prepare the ATK protocols.
COSEWIC Annual Report 2019 to 2020 (2020-09-02)Over the past year COSEWIC assessed a total of 21 wildlife species, none of which were assigned a status of Not at Risk. Of these 21, COSEWIC re-examined the status of nine wildlife species; of these, 44% were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 810 wildlife species in various risk categories including 363 Endangered, 190 Threatened, 235 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 19 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, 59 wildlife species have been designated as Data Deficient, and 198 have been assessed as Not at Risk.