Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Greater short-toed lark

Calandrella brachydactyla

Photo by Lior Kislev (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
greater short-toed lark (en); calhandrinha-comum (pt); alouette calandrelle (fr); terrera común (es); kurzzehenlerche (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Alaudidae

This species is found in southern Europe, from Portugal to Greece, and in northern Africa from Morocco to Egypt and south to the Sahel belt. It is also found along the middle latitudes of Asia all the way east to eastern China, Mongolia and Korea.

These birds are 13-14 cm long and have a wingspan of 25-32 cm. They weigh 18-25 g.

The greater short-toed lark is mostly found in dry grasslands, dry scrublands, fallow agricultural fields and pastures. They are also found in semi-desert and steppe. This species is found from sea level up to an altitude of 2.400 m.

During spring and summer they mostly eat invertebrates, namely beetles, ants, bugs and snails. During the rest of the year they eat seeds and other vegetable matter, mostly of grasses, herbs and also cereal grains.

Greater short-toed larks breed in April-July. The female builds the nest, a shallow scrape on the ground lined with grasses, rootlets and finer materials. There she lays 3-5 yellowish or greenish eggs with brown spots. The female incubates the eggs alone for 11-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 9-12 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 1-3 weeks later.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 100-1.000 million individuals. The population is estimated to be in decline owing to recorded regional declines in recent decades, especially in Europe.

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