Thickbilled lark

Ramphocoris clotbey

TAXONOMY

Melanocorypha clot-bey Bonaparte, 1850, Egyptian desert. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Clotbey lark; French: Alouette de Clotbey; German: Knackerlerche; Spanish: Alondra de Pico Grueso.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6.7 in (17 cm); male 1.8-1.9 oz (52-55 g); female 1.6 oz (45 g). Strong lark with large head. Short but massive bill most conspicuous. Blunt, toothlike projection on middle of lower mandible fits into notch on upper mandible. Upperparts uniformly pink/gray-brown, chest to vent with large black spots, sides of head blackish, throat and eye-ring white; plumage of females of less contrasting color and not so heavily streaked.

DISTRIBUTION

Patchily distributed in North Africa, north of Sahara from northern Mauritania and Morocco to Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Further east, distribution uncertain, but reported as breeding bird from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Arabia.

HABITAT

Stony deserts with sparse vegetation, avoids sand dunes.

BEHAVIOR

Solitary or in small groups during breeding season, but large flocks observed in winter. Male rises from ground and starts to sing before descending in parachute style.

Ramphocoris clotbey I Resident

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on seeds and green plant material as well as on insects. Uses bill to cut off plant material and to dig for food, and maybe for cracking solid cuticles of large beetles. However, even hard seeds are swallowed whole and not husked with bill, instead grit is taken with food to aid digestion.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. During ground display, male presents to female pebbles that are used in nest building. Nest cup-shaped, frequently surrounded by small lumps of soil or small stones. Two to three eggs incubated by female March through May, both parents feed young.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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