Horned Lark

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Common Name: Horned or Shore Lark
Scientific Name: Eremophila alpestris

Size: 6.3-7.9 inches (16-20 cm)

Habitat: North America, Europe and Asia. It breeds across much of North America from the high Arctic south to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. It is also found in northernmost Europe and Asia and in the mountains of southeast Europe. An isolated population is found on a plateau in Colombia. It is mainly resident in the south of its range, with northern populations of this passerine bird being migratory and moving further south in winter.

This is a bird of open ground. In Eurasia it breeds in the far north and above the tree line in mountains. In much of Europe, during the winter, it is frequently seen on seashore flats, leading to the European name of Shore Lark. In the UK and in eastern England it can be found as it makes a winter stopover along the coasts. In America, where there are no other larks to compete with, it is also found on farmland, prairies, deserts, golf courses, airports, and the like.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 140,000,000 individuals worldwide, but this bird is declining in most of its range. National population sizes have been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs. In China- c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals. In Japan- < c.1,000 individuals on migration and < c.1,000 wintering individuals. This bird is declining in most of its range.

In the open areas of western North America, Horned Larks are among the bird species most often killed by wind turbines.

Diet: Adult Horned Larks eat primarily weed and grass seeds, but they feed insects to their young.

Breeding: Unlike most other larks, this is a distinctive-looking species on the ground, mainly brown-grey above and pale below, with a striking black and yellow face pattern. The summer male has black "horns", which give this species its American name. America has a number of races distinguished by the face pattern and back color of males, especially in summer. The southern European mountain race. Eremophila alpestris penicillata is greyer above, and the yellow of the face pattern is replaced with white.

The nest is on the ground, with 2-5 eggs being laid. It may be built near corn or soybeans for a source of food, and the female chooses the site.

Cool Facts: In England, this bird is called a “Shore Lark” and in France, “Alouette hausse”. In North America, the “Horned Lark” is the only true lark native to North America.

The use of mowed areas around airstrips has allowed the Horned Lark to colonize regions where no other suitable habitat may exist nearby, such as heavily forested areas.

Found in Songbird ReMix Cool 'n' Unusual Birds 3

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