Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (250-20,000 square km (about 100-8000 square miles)) BREEDING: from southern Alberta to southern Manitoba, south east of the Rocky Mountains to northeastern Colorado, western Kansas, northcentral Nebraska, and western Minnesota (Hill and Gould 1997, AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: California (rare), northern Arizona, eastern New Mexico, eastern Colorado, and central Kansas south to northern Sonora, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and southern Texas (Hill and Gould 1997, AOU 1998).

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Range Description

Calcarius ornatus breeds in the Great Plains (north and central USA) and the Canadian Prairie Provinces (southern central Canada), and winters in south-central and south-western USA and north-central Mexico (Hill and Gould 1997). It has undergone long-term population declines so that it is now rare or extirpated as a breeding species in a number of States formerly occupied. Breeding Bird Survey data record significant declines since 1980 in South Dakota which remains a stronghold of the species. Given that populations already have been drastically reduced in neighbouring Minnesota and Nebraska, South Dakota populations, in particular, should be closely monitored (Hill and Gould 1997). Its decline measured by the Breeding Bird Survey equates to 7.4% per year (53.5% per decade) over 1993-2002, 3.9% per year (32.8% per decade) over 1980-2002, and 2.4% per year (31.6% per decade) over 1966-2002.

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Range

Prairies of central North America; > sw US to n Mexico.

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 15 cm

Weight: 19 grams

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Type Information

Cotype for Calcarius ornatus
Catalog Number: USNM A6290
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): T. Henry
Locality: Fort Thorn, Mimbres To Rio Grande - L. 32 Degrees, Dona Ana, New Mexico, United States, North America
  • Cotype: Baird. 1858. Rep. Expl. And Surv. R.R. Pac. 9: xxxviii (in list), 431 (in key), 436.
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Cotype for Calcarius ornatus
Catalog Number: USNM A6292
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): A. Heermann
Year Collected: 1854
Locality: New Mexico, United States, North America
  • Cotype: Baird. 1858. Rep. Expl. And Surv. R.R. Pac. 9: xxxviii (in list), 431 (in key), 436.
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Ecology

Habitat

Colorado Plateau Shrublands Habitat

This taxon can be found in the Colorado Plateau shrublands, as one of its North American ecoregions of occurrence. The Plateau is an elevated, northward-tilted saucer landform, characterized by its high elevation and arid to semi-arid climate. Known for the Grand Canyon, it exhibits dramatic topographic relief through the erosive action of high-gradient, swift-flowing rivers that have downcut and incised the plateau. Approximately 90 percent of the plateau is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries, notably the lower catchment of the Green River.

A pinyon-juniper zone is extensive, dominated by a pygmy forest of Pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) and several species of juniper (Juniperus spp). Between the trees the ground is sparsely covered by grama, other grasses, herbs, and various shrubs, such as Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and Alder-leaf cercocarpus (Cercocarpus montanus).

A montane zone extends over large areas on the high plateaus and mountains, but is much smaller than the pinyon-juniper zone. The montane vegetation varies considerably, from Ponderosa pine in the south to Lodgepole pine and Aspen further north. Northern Arizona contains four distinct Douglas-fir habitat types. The lowest zone has arid grasslands but with many bare areas, as well as xeric shrubs and sagebrush. Several species of cacti and yucca are common at low elevations in the south.

Numerous mammalian species are found within the Colorado Plateau shrublands ecoregion, including the Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus); Long-eared chipmunk (Tamias quadrimaculatus); Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens EN); Yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris); and the Uinta chipmunk (Tamias umbrinus), a burrowing omnivore.

A large number of birds are seen in the ecoregion, with representative taxa: Chestnut-collared longspur (Calcarius ornatus NT); Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus NT); Northern pygmy owl (Glaucidium gnoma); Cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus).

There are various snakes occurring within the Colorado Plateau, including: Black-necked garter snake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis), usually found in riparian zones; Plains Blackhead snake (Tantilla nigriceps); Black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus), who seeks inactivity refuge in rock crevices, animal burrows and even woodrat houses. Other reptiles found here include the Common checkered whiptail (Cnemidophorus tesselatus).

There are only a limited number of anuran taxa on the Colorado Plateau; in fact, the comprehensive occcurrence list for the ecoregion is: Red-spotted toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Canyon treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Woodhouse's toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Couch's spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus couchii); Northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens); Plains spadefoot toad (Spea bombifrons); and Southwestern toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus). The Tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) is the sole salamander found on the Colorado Plateau shrublands.

The Colorado River fish fauna display distinctive adaptive radiations. The Humpback chub (Gila cypha), for example, is a highly specialized minnow that lives in the upper Colorado. It adapted to the water’s fast current and its extremes of temperature and flow rate. Dams and water diversion, however, have created a series of placid, stillwater lakes and side streams, and the Humpback chub may not be able to adapt to these altered conditions. The species, along with other native Colorado River fishes including the Bonytail (Gila elegans), Squawfish (Ptychocheilus lucius), and the Flannelmouth sucker (Catostomus latipinnis), may not survive much further in time.

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Comments: BREEDING: Uses level to rolling mixed-grass and shortgrass uplands, and, in drier habitats, moist lowlands (DuBois 1935, Fairfield 1968, Owens and Myers 1973, Stewart 1975, Wiens and Dyer 1975, Kantrud and Kologiski 1982). Prefers open prairie and avoids excessively shrubby areas (Arnold and Higgins 1986). However, scattered shrubs and other low elevated perches such as Canada thistle (CIRSIUM ARVENSE) often are used for singing (Harris 1944, Fairfield 1968, Creighton 1974). Areas with dense litter accumulations are avoided (Renken 1983, Berkey et al. 1993, Anstey et al. 1995).

In order of preference, uses native pastures, followed by other grazed grasslands and hayland (Fairfield 1968, Owens and Myres 1973, Maher 1974, Stewart 1975, Faanes 1983, Anstey et al. 1995, Davis and Duncan 1995). Preferred vegetation height is <20-30 centimeter (Fairfield 1968). Although usually avoided, cultivated fields, fallow fields, stubble, and dense, idle areas may support a small number if vegetation is of suitable height and density (Fairfield 1968, Owens and Myres 1973, Stewart 1975, Anstey et al. 1995). In Nebraska, breeding occurred more frequently on idle shortgrass and mowed mixed-grass prairie than in low meadow zones or pasture (Johnsgard 1980). In North Dakota, densities were higher in cropland than in the tall, dense vegetation provided by idle Conservation Reserve Program fields (Johnson and Igl 1995). Other habitats used include waste and idle areas, such as fence borders and mowed aircraft landing strips (DuBois 1935, Fairfield 1968, Stewart 1975).

Within drier shortgrass habitats, prefer wetter, taller, and more densely vegetated areas than McCown's Longspur (CALCARIUS MCCOWNII) and Horned Lark (EREMOPHILA ALPESTRIS) (DuBois 1937, Strong 1971, Creighton 1974, Kantrud and Kologiski 1982, Wershler et al. 1991). Low, moist areas and wet-meadow zones around wetlands provide suitable habitat in these areas (DuBois 1937, Giezentanner 1970, Stewart 1975). In Saskatchewan, were more abundant on native pasture in good condition than in native pasture in poor condition; thus overgrazing is probably detrimental (Anstey et al. 1995). In Colorado, preferred areas with heterogeneous cover of short and mid-grasses, and were associated with bunchgrasses (Creighton 1974).

In moister, more thickly vegetated mixed-grass habitat, avoid tall, dense vegetation, preferring sparser upland grasslands with more bare ground (Renken 1983, Renken and Dinsmore 1987, Berkey et al. 1993, Johnson and Schwartz 1993, Anstey et al. 1995). NON-BREEDING: Grasslands and deserts with primarily grasses and forbs, vegetation less than 0.5 m. Also cultivated fields and near water sources (Hill and Gould 1997).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is a native-prairie specialist (Anstey et al. 1995), its breeding range restricted to short-grass and mixed-grass prairie regions, and its wintering range restricted to dry grasslands and deserts, where it feeds on grains in high density flocks (Hill and Gould 1997). It prefers native grasslands recently disturbed by fire, grazing or mowing, and will avoid nesting in areas protected from grazing or cultivated fields (Maher 1973, Owens and Myres 1973).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Flocks migrate north in spring, arrive in breeding areas around mid-April (Terres 1980).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Seeds and insects.

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Associations

Known prey organisms

Calcarius ornatus (chestnut-collard longspur) preys on:
pendler three-awn grass
Coleoptera
Diptera
Hemiptera
Auchenorrhyncha
Sternorrhyncha
Papilionoidea
Orthoptera

Based on studies in:
USA: California, Cabrillo Point (Grassland)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • L. D. Harris and L. Paur, A quantitative food web analysis of a shortgrass community, Technical Report No. 154, Grassland Biome. U.S. International Biological Program (1972), from p. 17.
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Population Biology

Global Abundance

2500 - 10,000 individuals

Comments: Density ranged from 0.7 to 1.2 breeding pairs (mean 0.09) per hectare on grazed plots at Matador, Saskatchewan; 0.0 to 0.2 pairs per hectare (mean 0.1) in ungrazed plots (Maher 1973 cited in Hill and Gould 1997). In Alberta ranged from 1.1 to 1.4 breeding pairs per hectare. Wintering flocks in Oklahoma reported to contain up to 166 individuals per hectare (Grzybowski 1982 cited in Hill and Gould 1997).

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General Ecology

Territory sizes for two males in Manitoba were about 0.2 ha and 0.4 ha (Harris 1944). In Saskatchewan, territories were about 0.4 to 0.8 ha, increasing to almost four hectares in marginal habitat (Fairfield 1968). In southeastern Alberta, territories were about 1 ha (Hill and Gould 1997).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Arrive on the breeding grounds in late March and early April, with males preceding females by 1-2 weeks (Fairfield 1968, Maher 1973, Johnsgard 1980, O'Grady et al. 1996, Hill and Gould 1997). First clutches are initiated in early to mid-May, and second or replacement clutches may be initiated through late July (DuBois 1935, Fairfield 1968, Maher 1973). Produced two broods per season in Colorado (Strong 1971), and initiation dates of confirmed second clutches in Alberta ranged from early June to mid-July (Hill and Gould 1997). Third broods occur occasionally (Harris 1944, Hill and Gould 1997). Flocking occurs as nesting ends in mid-August, and flocks forage in ditches, dry sloughs, and rough ground outside of the breeding areas (Harris 1944). Fall migration occurs in September and October (Fairfield 1968, Maher 1973, Johnsgard 1980).

Males are philopatric, returning to breeding territories the following year 67 to 85 percent of the time; females showed less fidelity to a breeding area, returning 32 to 43 percent of the time (Hill and Gould 1997).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Calcarius ornatus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 7 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CCTATACTTAATCTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGAATAGTAGGTACCGCCCTAAGCCTCCTTATTCGAGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCTGGAGCCCTTCTAGGAGACGACCAAGTATATAACGTAGTCGTAACGGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTCATAGTTATGCCAATTATAATCGGAGGATTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTAATAATTGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCGCGAATAAATAACATGAGCTTCTGACTGCTCCCTCCATCTTTCCTTCTTCTCCTAGCATCTTCTACAGTTGAAGCAGGCGTTGGTACAGGTTGAACAGTGTACCCCCCACTGGCCGGTAACCTAGCTCATGCCGGAGCCTCAGTAGACCTAGCAATCTTCTCCCTTCACCTAGCTGGTATCTCCTCAATCCTCGGAGCAATCAACTTCATCACAACAGCAATCAACATAAAACCCCCTGCCCTTTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTTGTTTGATCCGTGCTAATCACCGCAGTCCTGCTGCTCCTATCCCTTCCAGTCCTAGCTGCAGGAATCACAATGCTTCTAACAGACCGAAACCTAAACACTACATTCTTCGACCCAGCCGGAGGAGGAGACCCTGTCCTATACCAACACCTTTTCTGATTCTTTGGCCANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Calcarius ornatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B,N5N : N5B: Secure - Breeding, N5N: Secure - Nonbreeding

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Butcher, G., Rosenberg, K. & Wells, J.

Justification
This species appears to have undergone a moderately rapid decline and hence qualifies as Near Threatened.

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Comments: Some indication of contraction of historic breeding and winter ranges and long-term population declines. No recent breeding records in Kansas and considered rare in Minnesota and Nebraska; scarce south of 30 degrees North during the winter. Short term trend less clear. North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data for 1966-1979 (N = 50 survey routes) are variable and show no consistent pattern. Data for 1980-1996 show no significant population trend survey wide but show significant annual decline in South Dakota (-11.1; P less than 0.01, N = 22 survey routes) and North Dakota (-2.2; P less than 0.09; N = 35 survey routes). South Dakota had highest breeding density during 1966-1979 surveys. BBS may be inappropriate, however, to detect trends because the species moves opportunistically to recently burn, mowed, or grazed areas (Hill and Gould 1997). Christmas Bird Count data (1960-1989) also show sporadic occurrence across winter range.

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Population

Population
Rich et al. (2004).


Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Degree of Threat: C : Not very threatened throughout its range, communities often provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure over the short-term, or communities are self-protecting because they are unsuitable for other uses

Comments: HABITAT: Depend on native prairie habitat. Eliminated by cultivation and conversion to urban development. Long term population decline likely to continue as native rangeland is converted to cropland (Hill and Gould 1997). PREDATORS: In Canada, predation was the greatest cause of nest failure; nests usually were depredated during the nestling stage (Maher 1973, O'Grady et al. 1996). In Alberta, 89.5 percent of all nest failures were due to predators (O'Grady et al. 1996 cited in Hill and Gould 1997). In Saskatchewan, 97 and 72 percent of egg and nestling mortality, respectively, were lost to predators. High rate of nest predation may limit population size. Nest predators include: long-tailed weasel (MUSTELA FRENATA), Richardson's ground squirrel (SPERMOPHILUS RICHARDSONII ), thirteen-lined ground squirrel (SPERMOPHILUS TRIDECEMLINEATUS), badger (TAXIDEA TAXUS), striped skunk (MEPHITES MEPHITES), garter snake (THAMNOPHIS spp.), western rattlesnake (CROTALIS VIRIDES), bull snake (PITUOPHIS MELANOLEUCUS), and American crow (CORVUS BRACHYRHYNCHUS). Predators of adults and fledglings include: coyote (CANIS LATRANS), red fox (VULPES VULPES), northern harrier (CIRCUS CYANEUS), loggerhead shrike (LANIUS LUDOVICIANUS), merlin (FALCO COLUMBARIUS), American kestrel (FALCO SPARVERIUS), burrowing owl (ATHENE CUNICULARIA), and Cooper's hawk (ACCIPITER COOPERII; Hill and Gould 1997) INCLEMENT WEATHER: Prolonged rainstorms (more than 1.5 days) accompanied by cool temperatures can also cause significant nest failure (DuBois 1935, Harris 1944). In Alberta, 1.5 percent of nest failures were weather related. In Manitoba, 8.5 percent of chicks were killed by a storm (Harris 1944 cited in Hill and Gould 1997). PESTICIDES: Pesticides (pyrethroid insecticide) shown to reduce hatch success. Seeds treated with fungicides or other chemicals before planting may pose a threat to this seedeater (Hill and Gould 1997). PARASITISM: Infrequently parasitized by brown-headed cowbird (MOLOTHRUS ATER; Friedmann 1963, Fairfield 1968, Hill and Gould 1997). No apparent effect of parasitism on nest success (Davis 1994 cited in Hill and Gould 1997).

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Major Threats
As a result of conversion of native prairie to croplands and urban developments it has disappeared from much of its historical breeding range (e.g. in Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota). The wintering range has also contracted: this is presumed to have resulted from a population decline. Brown-headed cowbirds parasitise this species and there is a high level of predation by native predators (Hill and Gould 1997). It can be vulnerable to disturbance (Hill and Gould 1997).

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Management

Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: In Saskatchewan, minimum area requirements were about 58 ha (SWCC 1997). In Saskatchewan, nests were parasitized at a frequency of 20 percent; results from a stepwise logistic regression model indicated that 700-1600 hectares would be needed to halve the current parasitism rate (SWCC 1997).

Management Requirements: GRAZING: Throughout their range, prefer grazed areas to ungrazed areas (Felske 1971; Maher 1973; Dale 1983, 1984; Kantrud 1981; Kantrud and Kologiski 1983; Renken 1983), and native pastures to other types of pasture (Owens and Myres 1973, Anstey et al. 1995, Davis and Duncan 1995). Birds in native pastures may tolerate a wider range of grazing intensities than those in tame pastures (Anstey et al. 1995).

Optimal grazing intensity varies according to prairie type. In mixed-grass or wetter prairie areas where grass is too tall or thick, moderate to heavy grazing can effectively improve habitat by providing shorter, sparser vegetation (Ryder 1980, Kantrud and Kologiski 1982, Messmer 1990). In dry, sparse shortgrass prairie, light to moderate grazing is more appropriate, and heavy grazing or overgrazing may be detrimental (Strong 1971, Ryder 1980, Kantrud and Kologiski 1982, Bock et al. 1993, Anstey et al. 1995).

BURNING: In Saskatchewan, abundance declined during the first season after burning, but during the second year postburn abundance increased to a level similar to that on grazed pastures (Maher 1973). In South Dakota, spring burning of mixed-grass habitat provided open areas of short vegetation that was used during the first few months postburn, after which use declined (Huber and Steuter 1984).

MOWING/HAYING: Mowing can improve habitat in mixed-grass areas by decreasing vegetation height and density (Owens and Myres 1973, Stewart 1975). However, grazed areas usually are preferred to mowed areas (Owens and Myres 1973, Kantrud 1981). Periodically hayed fields (every 3 years) were avoided in southcentral Saskatchewan (Dale et al. 1997).

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Global Protection: Few to several (1-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Protected in a variety of land management areas.

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
It has been the focus of a number of studies on the breeding grounds, but no species-specific management actions are in place.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue monitoring the species, if necessary using a methodology more appropriate than the Breeding Bird Survey. Identify key migration stopovers and wintering sites, and threats to these areas. Ascertain winter habitat requirements and preferences. Develop suitable methods and incentives to restore native prairie habitats. Maintenance of native prairie grasslands is essential for this species.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview: Protect prairie areas from plowing and cultivation (Owens and Myres 1973, Stewart 1975).

Provide open, grazed native prairie (Owens and Myres 1973, Anstey et al. 1995, Davis and Duncan 1995). Longspurs prefer native pastures to all other habitat types and may tolerate a wider range of grazing intensities in native pastures than in other pastures (Owens and Myres 1973, Anstey et al. 1995, Davis and Duncan 1995).

Avoid managing for idle, dense vegetation, as densities decrease with increased mean vertical density, diversity, and litter depth (Renken 1983, Messmer 1990, Johnson and Igl 1995).

Burning may offer benefits, provided that vegetative regrowth is not too tall or dense (Maher 1973, Berkey et al. 1993).

In mixed-grass areas, mow to improve habitat by decreasing vegetation height and density (Owens and Myres 1973, Stewart 1975). Annual mowing was more beneficial than periodic mowing (once every 3 years) in northern mixed-grass prairie (Dale et al. 1997).

In mixed-grass prairie, graze at moderate to heavy intensity. Graze moister areas to increase diversity and patchiness and reduce tall, thick vegetation (Ryder 1980, Kantrud and Kologiski 1982). Messmer (1990) reported highest densities on pastures grazed using a twice-over rotation system, rather than areas grazed using season-long or short-duration systems.

In shortgrass prairie, graze at light to moderate intensity; avoid overgrazing (Strong 1971, Bock et al. 1993, Anstey et al. 1995).

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Wikipedia

Chestnut-collared longspur

The chestnut-collared longspur (Calcarius ornatus) is a small ground-feeding bird from the family Calcariidae which also contains the longspurs.

These birds have a short conical bill, a streaked back and a white tail with a dark tip. In breeding plumage, the male has black underparts, a chestnut nape, a yellow throat and a black crown. Other birds have light brown underparts, a dark crown, brown wings and may have some chestnut on the nape.

This bird breeds in short and mixed grass prairies in central Canada and the north central United States. The female lays 4 or 5 eggs in a grass cup nest in a shallow scrape on the ground. The male sings and flies up to defend his territory. Both parents feed the young birds.

In winter, they migrate in flocks to prairies and open fields in the southern United States and Mexico.

These birds forage on the ground, gathering in flocks in winter. They mainly eat seeds, also eating insects in summer. Young birds are mainly fed insects.

The call is a two-syllabled chee dee.

Conservation[edit]

Like other prairie birds, they have disappeared from some areas due to habitat loss but are still fairly common.

Controlled burns may benefit this species as they feed on low-growing plants that are more easily spotted after a fire.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Calcarius ornatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Prairies to Pines: News from Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. (Fall 2010 Update). The Nature Conservancy.
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