In On the Move, our regular column about migration, we present pairs of distribution maps from eBird that you can use to compare where interesting birds are at different times of year. In our January-February 2017 issue, we featured two species to look for in February — Eurasian Wigeon and Chestnut-collared Longspur.
Chestnut-collared Longspur is one of the most characteristic birds of North America’s short-grass prairies. Though more widespread before European settlement and the conversion and loss of prairie habitats, longspurs still breed throughout much of the northern Great Plains of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, eastern Montana, the Dakotas, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado.
By winter (right map), the longspur has largely vacated its breeding range for the high-elevation grasslands of the desert Southwest, where it is generally found in flocks of a few to several hundred birds. Wintering areas vary from year to year and appear to be correlated with precipitation. Important areas include the Sonoita and Sulphur Springs Valleys of southeastern Arizona, the bootheel of New Mexico, and especially the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands of northern Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico.
eBird is the real-time online checklist operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. On the Move is written by eBird’s Garrett MacDonald, Chris Wood, Marshall Iliff, and Brian Sullivan. Submit your bird sightings at ebird.org.
A version of this article appeared in “Birding Briefs” in the January-February 2017 issue of BirdWatching.
New to birdwatching?
Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, descriptions of birding hotspots, and more delivered to your inbox every other week. Sign up now.