Thursday, 2 August 2012

Horned lark

Eremophila alpestris

Photo by R. Gilbert (Costal Sand Ecosystems)

Common name:
horner lark (en); cotovia-cornuda (pt); alouette hausse-col (fr); alondra cornuda (es); ohrenlerche (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Alaudidae

This species is widely distributed in the northern hemisphere, being found throughout North America, northern Europe and central and northern Asia. there are also some smaller populations in the mountains of south-eastern Europe and north-west Africa.

These birds are 15-17 cm long and have a wingspan of 31-35,5 cm. They weigh 26-48 g.

The horned lark is mostly found in open habitats such as prairies, grasslands, dry tundra, scrublands, sand dunes and beaches, arable land and pastures. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 5.400 m.

They usually forage on the ground, feeding on insects and other arthropods, such as spiders, ants, grasshoppers, wasps, but also snails, fruits, berries and seeds.

Horned larks breed in March-July. They nest in shallow depressions in the ground where the female adds dry grass, plant down, and plant stems. The nest is usually placed near stones or under small plants in open, sandy or barren areas. The female lays 3-5 glossy grey to greenish eggs, which she incubates alone for 10-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 9-12 days after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated to be over 140 million individuals. The population is known to be decreasing in parts of its range

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