Rhynchophanes Mccownii – Thick-Billed Longspur

Rhynchophanes mccownii - Thick-billed longspur in the United States

The thick-billed longspur, also known as McCown’s Longspur and in Latin name called as Rhynchophanes mccownii, is a medium ground-feeding bird belonging to the Calcariidae family, which also includes the other longspurs and snow buntings. It is the only species in the genus Rhynchophanes, and it can be found only in North America.

Quick Overview: Rhynchophanes Mccownii – Thick-Billed Longspur Body size: Around 6in (15cm) in length with 23 g (0.8 oz). Main colors: Gray, Black, White, Chestnut Brown Range: Rocky Mountain Area in the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: January, February, June, July, August, September, December
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Thick-billed longspur Description

With streaked gray underparts and a darker breast, characterize this medium-sized sparrow. The bird’s head is black with a white crown and throat, as well as a stout, heavy bill. The whitetail is distinguished by a black inverted T. The bars on the wings are chestnut brown in color. Legs and feet are all blacks.

Rhynchophanes mccownii - Thick-billed longspur in the United States
Rhynchophanes Mccownii – Thick-Billed Longspur. Source: Wikipedia


This McCown’s longspur is 6in (15cm) in length with 23 g (0.8 oz). Its wings could range up to 10 in (25 cm).


It subsists primarily on seeds, insects, and other arthropods.


Shortgrass prairies, native grasslands, pastures, and agricultural areas are all good places to look for it.


Males sing a distinctive tinkling song while flying. A dry rattle is also heard.

The eggs are incubated for 12 days in a shallow depression on the ground. The young are fed by both parents and leave the nest 10 days after hatching before they can fly. During the breeding season, thick-billed longspurs form flocks with Lapland longspurs and horned larks.

Rhynchophanes mccownii Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Calcariidae
  • Genus: Rhynchophanes
  • Species: Rhynchophanes mccownii

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States are during summer (June to September) and winter (December to February).

Distribution of the Thick-billed longspur in the USA

This bird is found in Mexico and some part of the United States and prefers grassland habitats, though it has been seen on arable farmland. The thick-billed longspurs can be found in the following states in the United States – Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Texas, and Wyoming.

Rhynchophanes Mccownii – Thick-Billed Longspur

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