Sky lark

Alauda arvensis

TAXONOMY

Alauda arvensis Linnaeus, 1758, Europe. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Alouette des champs; German: Feldlerche; Spanish: Alondra Común.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS 7.1-7.5 in (18-19 cm); male 0.9-1.9 oz (27-55 g); female 0.6-1.7 oz (17-47 g). Extensively streaked brown plumage, crown feathers can be raised to a short crest; bill stronger than bill of wood lark; sexes alike. Most common lark species within its western Palearctic part of distribution.

DISTRIBUTION

North Africa, Europe, and Asia; introduced in Australia, Canada (Vancouver Island, British Columbia), Hawaii, and New Zealand.

HABITAT

Dense grasslands, cultivated farmland, airfields and sports grounds.

Eremophila alpestris H Resident

BEHAVIOR

Perches only rarely on wires and trees. High-level song-flight in breeding season. Male rises with rapid wing-beats, after prolonged hovering falls parachute style and drops to ground suddenly, singing all the time loudly and forcefully. Populations of the western Palearctic are migratory, hibernate in the Mediterranean region; breeding birds of the British Isles are sedentary. Eastern Asiatic populations migrate to southeastern China; populations of central Asia hibernate in northern India, Afghanistan, and Iran; and eastern Palearctic populations migrate to Turkey, Syria, and Jordan.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Mainly arthropods during summer, but seeds in winter.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Breeds April-July; two, rarely three, broods. Cup-shaped nest in depression on ground. Three to five, exceptionally up to seven, eggs. Female incubates for 12-14 days, chicks leave nest when eight to 10 days old. Both parents care for young.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Decreasing populations in Europe, but not considered threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Still hunted legally in France, Greece, and Italy. ♦

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