Breeding males have a bold black face bordered by a swooping yellow-white line and a rich rufous patch on the back of the neck. Females are similar but lack the extensive black. In winter, males and females retain an echo of face pattern but lack the blocks of color, becoming overall pale brown and streaked. In all plumages, the tail is dark with white outer tail feathers.
Lapland Longspurs walk or run across open landscapes, often taking cover among plant stalks or crouching motionless against the ground, depending on their excellent camouflage to conceal them. They form large, nomadic flocks in the winter. Flushed birds often fly quite high and settle far from their original position.
Breeds in arctic tundra. Winters in open habitats including used agricultural fields, turf farms, and coastal dunes.
Abundant and widespread. Most of breeding range is remote from the effects of human activity.
HabitatIn summer, tundra; in winter, fields, prairies. Breeds in various kinds of treeless Arctic habitats, from open wet tundra and sedge meadows to drier upland tundra. Winters in open country including shortgrass prairie, overgrazed pastures, stubble fields, plowed fields, lake shores, and similar areas.