Thursday, 21 April 2011

Fawn-coloured lark

Mirafra africanoides
(Photo from Bird Forum)

Common name:
fawn-coloured lark (en); cotovia-cor-d'areia (pt); alouette fauve (fr); alondra leonada (es); steppenlerche (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Alaudidae

This African species is found in two distinct populations. The southern population is found from north-central South Africa to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, marginally extending into Zambia and Angola. The other population occurs in arid areas of eastern Africa, in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

This medium-sized lark is 14-16 cm long and weighs 18-25 g.

Fawn-coloured larks are mostly found in desert scrub, broadleaf savanna and thornveld.

It eats insects and the seeds of forbs and grasses, doing most of its foraging on bare sandy soil and at the bases of grass tufts. Among their prey are termites, ants, grasshoppers, antlion larvae and spiders.

The fawn-coloured lark breeds in September-April. The nest is a cup built of grass and rootlets, often concealed by a grass-built dome. It is typically placed in a scrape in the ground, at the base of a small shrub or grass tuft. There the female lays 2-4 eggs which are incubated for 11-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents, fledging 12-14 days after hatching, but continuing dependent on their parents for several weeks.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the global population size has not been quantified, this species is described as common throughout its very large breeding range. In the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, the population is believed to be stable and the species is therefore not considered threatened at present.

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