Common Name

Scientific Name

View Utah Distribution Map

Photo by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Photo Courtesy of U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Lapland longspur, Calcarius lapponicus, breeds in the high arctic, constructing nests of moss, caribou hair, and grasses on the tundra. Usually females produce four or five eggs, but fewer may be laid during cold periods; the female incubates the eggs for ten to fourteen days. Young leave the nest after eight to ten days, but they are unable to fly for several days thereafter. Both parents tend the young, and they may divide the brood when the young leave the nest.

Adults eat insects and grass seeds, but young are fed exclusively insects. This longspur migrates south in winter, and large flocks appear in the United States, commonly east of the Rocky Mountains and irregularly west of the Rocky Mountains. Lapland longspurs are rare winter visitors to Utah.


  • Rising, J. D., and D. D. Beadle. 1996. A guide to the identification and natural history of the sparrows of the United States and Canada. Academic Press, San Diego. xii + 365 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.