In Central Europe, larks are regarded as harbingers of spring, and they were honored by the ancient Greeks as mediators between heaven and earth, and by the Celts as being beneficial for their harvest. Their melodious and long song, especially that of the skylark, is celebrated in verse by poets, and Shakespeare called the lark "the herald of the morn" in Romeo and Juliet. Skylarks were successfully naturalized in Australia in the 1850s, in New Zealand and on the Hawaiian Islands in the mid 1860s, as well as on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in 1903 (although declining seriously in the 1990s). Skylarks were also released at other places in North America, but they were not able to build up stable populations and thus became extinct.
Even today, larks are trapped and shot legally in France and in the Mediterranean region. Spaepen calculated that five times as many skylarks are killed by humans in France than anywhere else in Europe, and the number of skylarks killed annually in southwest France is estimated at five to 10 million birds!
1. Female Australasian bushlark (Mirafia javanica); 2. Greater hoopoe-lark (Alaemou alaudipes); 3. Black-crowned sparrow-lark (Eremopterix nigri-ceps); 4. Thick-billed lark (Ramphocoris clotbey); 5. Long-billed lark (Certhilauda curvirostris); 6. Calaudra lark (Melanocorypha calaudra); 7. Female greater short-toed lark (Calaudrella brachydactyla); 8. Sky lark (Alauda arvensis); 9. Female wood lark (Lullula arborea); 10. Crested lark (Galerida cristata); 11. Horned lark (Eremophila alpestris). (Illustration by Emily Damstra)
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