Species Profile

Chestnut-collared Longspur

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.

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Description

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)

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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)

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Habitat

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)

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Biology

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)

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Threats

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)

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Protection

Federal Protection

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

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Documents

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

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus) in Canada (2020-10-26)

    Chestnut-collared Longspur is a medium-sized songbird. It is one of two longspurs (family Calcariidae) that nest in grassland. Breeding males are boldly marked, with a black breast, belly, crown, and eye-line contrasting with a buffy-yellow throat, whitish supercilium, and chestnut patch on the nape; in winter the pattern is heavily muted and more similar to the year-round overall buffy, streaked appearance of females. In all plumages, Chestnut-collared Longspur has an inverted dark triangle at the tip of its tail which distinguishes it from all other longspurs. Chestnut-collared Longspur is one of six passerine species endemic to the Great Plains of North America; five of them occur in Canada, and all have been assessed as at risk. Note: This COSEWIC assessment was received by the Minister on September 2, 2020.
  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Chestnut-collared Longspur in Canada (2010-09-03)

    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.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment Summary and Status Report: Chestnut–collared Longspur Calcarius ornatus (2010-09-03)

    Assessment Summary – November 2009 Common name Chestnut–collared Longspur Scientific name Calcarius ornatus Status Threatened Reason for designation 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 1960s, 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. Occurrence Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba Status history Designated Threatened in November 2009.

Response Statements

  • 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.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus) in Canada (2018-02-12)

    The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada Agency is the competent minister under SARA for the Chestnut-collared Longspur and has prepared this strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Government of Alberta, as per section 39(1) of SARA. The Recovery Strategy for the Chestnut Collared Longspur was modified in February 2018 to name the national wildlife area in which critical habitat is found (Prairie National Wildlife Area (Unit No. 11)).

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Grasslands National Park of Canada (2016-07-05)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Grasslands National Park of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Grasslands National Park of Canada (GNP). The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur at this site. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at GNP.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (volume 145, number 23, 2011) (2011-11-09)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, hereby acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 146, number 14, 2012) (2012-07-04)

    The purpose of the Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act is to add 18 species to Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (the List), and to reclassify 7 listed species, pursuant to subsection 27(1) of SARA. This amendment is made on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

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.

Permits and Related Agreements

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – November 2010 (2010-12-02)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by February 4, 2011 for species undergoing normal consultations and by February 4, 2012 for species undergoing extended consultations.
  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species December 2020 (2020-12-02)

    COVID-19 and the consultations on the listing of species at risk As a result of the ongoing COVID 19 situation, it is not possible to have in-person meetings. Taking this into consideration, please note that consultation closing dates have been set for both the Normal and Extended consultations for the terrestrial species considered in this document. We will work to ensure that all the known, potentially affected parties have the opportunity to contribute to the consultations and that the consultation process is flexible and sensitive to the current context. If you wish to contribute, please submit your comments by April 2, 2021 for species undergoing normal consultations and by September 2, 2021 for species undergoing extended consultations. You may provide comments by email, letters, or through the online survey. The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection afforded by the prohibitions and from recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 622 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments by April 2, 2021, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by September 2, 2021, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry website at: The Minister of the Environment's Response to Species at Risk Assessments. To respond to survey questions, please go to the survey page. Consultation ends on April 2, 2021 for species undergoing a normal consultation process and on September 2, 2021 for species undergoing an extended consultation process.

Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update December 2, 2021
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