Lark Sparrow

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Common Name: Lark Sparrow
Scientific Name: Chondestes grammacus

Size: 5-9-6.7 inches (15-17 cm)

Habitat: North America; breeds in southern Canada, much of the United States, and northern Mexico. It is much less common in the east, where its range is contracting. The populations in Mexico and adjacent states of the United States are resident, but other birds are migratory, wintering in the southern United States, Mexico and south to Guatemala.

Lark Sparrows breed in open habitats, where grass adjoins scattered trees and shrubs, especially in poor or sandy soils. They are also found in park-like woodlands, mesquite grasslands, sage brush and fallow fields with brushy edges.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: Unknown amount of mature individuals. This species has undergone a large and statistically significant decrease over the last 40 years in North America (-62.6% decline over 40 years, equating to a -21.8% decline per decade)

Diet: Mostly seeds, and occasionally insects (Grasshoppers especially) during breeding season. They forage on the ground or in low bushes and form into flocks during migration and in winter.

Nesting: Sexes are alike. Adults have a typically sparrow-like dark-streaked brown back, and white under parts except for a dark central spot. The cheeks and crown sides are chestnut, with white eyebrow and crown stripes. Young Lark Sparrows are duller, and the under parts are streaked.

A courting male Lark Sparrow crouches on the ground, holds his tail up at a 45 degree angle from the ground, spreads the tail feathers to show off the white tips, and then struts with its wings drooping so that the wingtips nearly touch the ground. When the female is receptive, the male gives her a small twig just before copulation.

The Lark Sparrow often takes over old mockingbird or thrasher nests instead of building its own. Occasionally the eggs and young of two species are found in the same nest, suggesting that the Lark Sparrow shares the nest with the other bird.

The breeding habitat is a variety of open habitats including grasslands and cultivation. Lark Sparrows nest on the ground, laying 3-6 eggs in a grass cup nest sheltered by a clump of grass or other vegetation. The eggs are white with black scrawling.

Cool Facts: Unlike many songbirds, the Lark Sparrow walks on the ground rather than hops. It hops only during courtship.

Found in Songbird Remix Sparrows of the World

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