Calandra lark

Melanocorypha calandra

TAXONOMY

Alauda calandra Linnaeus, 1766, Pyrenees. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Alouette calandre; German: Kalanderlerche; Spanish: Calandria Común.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS 7.1-7.5 in (18-19 cm); male 2.0-2.6 oz (57-73 g); female 1.8-2.2 oz (50-65 g); larger and stronger than skylark. Bill conical and heavy. Upperparts brown and streaked, black patches on each side of upper breast characteristic. Sexes alike.

DISTRIBUTION

North Africa, southern Europe east to Ural steppes, from Asia Minor to central Asia, missing between Caspian Sea and Lake Aral.

HABITAT

Open lowlands, steppe, grasslands, cultivated farmland, and meadows.

BEHAVIOR

Resident in southern Europe, Near East, and North Africa, migratory in Russia. Forms flocks of up to 2,500 individuals autumn and winter; frequently associated with other larks and corn bunting (Miliaria calandra). Male utters continuous song from ground or perch. Song-flight performed in circles, ascending in spirals. Several males often sing close together. Song similar to skylark, contains imitations of other birds.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Diet changes from insects during summer to seeds in winter. Bill used for digging.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Two broods April through June; both sexes build cup-shaped nest, clutch size ranges from three to six eggs, incubated by female, but brood patch also observed in several males. Young hatch after 16 days; fed by both parents. Leave nest after 10 days before being able to fly.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened, though population is declining in southern Europe due to agricultural intensification and possibly hunting; listed in Annex I of the European Birds Directive.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS Hunted in the Mediterranean region. ♦

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