Monday, 25 August 2014

Rudd's lark

Heteromirafra ruddi

Photo by Warwick Tarboton (Warwick Tarboton)

Common name:
Rudd's lark (en); cotovia-de-Rudd (pt); alouette de Rudd (fr); alondra de Rudd (es); Transvaalspornlerche (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Alaudidae

This species is endemic to South Africa, being patchily distributed across south-eastern Mpumalanga, western KwaZulu-Natal, the north-eastern Free State and farther north in the Dullstroom-Machadodorp district.

These birds are 14-15 cm long and weigh 26-27 g.

The Rudd's lark is found in open, grazed mountain grasslands without forb invasion, in areas of high rainfall at altitudes of 1.600-2.200 m.

They feed on adult and larval insects, such as caterpillars, grasshoppers and beetles, as well as seeds.

Rudd's larks breed in November-February. They are monogamous and territorial, and nest on the ground in a cup covered with a dome, made from old grass and lined with fresh dry grass. There the female lays 2-4 eggs which are incubated for 13-14 days. The chicks fledge about 13 days after hatching.

IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively large but patchy breeding range, and a global population estimated at just 1.700-3.300 individuals. The population is believed to be declining and current rates of habitat loss could lead to a further decline of 30-50% in the next decade. This species is greatly affected by habitat loss and fragmentation through agricultural intensification, inappropriate pasture management and afforestation. Human settlement and mining are also considered major threats for its habitat. Further threats include wild fires and nest predation by mongooses, rodents and snakes.

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