Cape longbilled lark

Certhilauda curvirostris

TAXONOMY

Alauda curvirostris Hermann, 1783, Cape of Good Hope. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Long-billed lark; French: Alouette a long bec; German: Langschnabellerche; Spanish: Alondra Picuda.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Male 7.5-7.9 in (19-20 cm); female 6.3-6.7 in (16-17 cm); weight unknown. Males clearly larger than females, but sexes do not differ in respect to plumage color or pattern. Plumage brown-grayish, heavily streaked, breast marked with dark spots. Species reminiscent of a thrush with a long, decurved bill. Hind claw is long and straight.

DISTRIBUTION

Small strip from southern Namibia to southwestern South Africa, Cape Province.

HABITAT

Coastal dunes and arid fields, avoids more rocky areas. BEHAVIOR

Solitary or in pairs. Male performs spectacular aerial songdisplay, characteristic for all Certhilauda species. Male first flies low over the ground, then rises nearly vertically several feet into the air and closes its wings before reaching the high point. After that it nose-dives and descends vertically, not opening the wings before coming close to the ground. Whistles while descending; same song is also uttered from prominent perches.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on termites, grasshoppers, beetles, and ants, as well as on seeds and berries. Uses long bill for digging. Since sexes differ in size of bill, they probably exploit different food resources.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Breeds September through December; nest often domed, clutch size ranges from two to three eggs; both parents feed the young.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Common in its limited southwestern African range. Range may have increased due to agriculture.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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