Alauda arvensis - Alouette des champs
- Size: 19 cm
- Wingspan: 35 cm.
- Weight: 45 à 50 g
The Eurasian Skylark is a medium-sized bird (17.5 to 19 cm in length, with the male being the largest). It has a neutral plumage, without any outstanding features and often cryptic with the ground it moves on as it is a terrestrial bird. The upperparts are brown and the underside is notably paler. The mantle is chamois, streaked with dark brown. The coverts, remiges and central rectrices are brown and bordered with chamois. The wings are long with a long primary projection. The crown, neck and upper chest are light chamois and finely streaked with brown. The crown feathers are erect and can become a short crest when the bird is excited. The dark eye is surrounded by a white ring with brown edgings. This blends in with the whitish eyebrow, lores and white-cream sideburns or chamois. The earcoverts, bordered with chamois, often have a russet hue. The throat is white. A faint malar stripe in brown is noticeable. The bill is straight, quite long and straw-coloured or horn-coloured. The male's bill is more powerful than the female's, whose plumage is similar. The tail is tricoloured. The central rectrices are medium brown, the following pairs are some dark brown and the outermost one is distinctly white. This can be seen when the bird is flying and singing and when the male spreads the tail; it's also a good opportunity to see a light line formed by the white edging of the inner primaries and secondaries under the wings. The parts below the chest from the throat onwards are white. The upper flanks are reddish brown and lightly streaked with brown, as is the breast band. The legs are pink or rosé. The juvenile can be distinguished from the adult by its new scaly plumage. The feathers present a subterminal brown edging and a wide creamy chamois terminal edging.It is particularly evident in the wing covers and tertial remiges. The head seems to be speckled with white. 15 subspecies are described. They differ from each other only in details of plumage and measurements that are unnecessary to specify here.
Subspecific information 11 subspecies
- Alauda arvensis arvensis (n, w and c Europe)
- Alauda arvensis sierrae (Portugal, c and s Spain)
- Alauda arvensis harterti (nw Africa)
- Alauda arvensis cantarella (s Europe from ne Spain to Turkey and the Caucasus)
- Alauda arvensis armenica (se Turkey to Iran)
- Alauda arvensis dulcivox (se European Russia and w Siberia to nw China and sw Mongolia)
- Alauda arvensis kiborti (s Siberia, n and e Mongolia and ne China)
- Alauda arvensis intermedia (nc Siberia to ne China and Korea)
- Alauda arvensis pekinensis (ne Siberia, Kamchatka Pen. and Kuril Is.)
- Alauda arvensis lonnbergi (n Sakhalin I.)
- Alauda arvensis japonica (s Sakhalin I., s Kuril Is., Japan and Ryukyu Is.)
Voice song and cries
The song of the Eurasian Skylark is the dominant element of the soundscape of agricultural areas and other open grassland habitats. Males typically sing while in territorial flight, and occasionally while perched on a bush. The song is long and complex, very varied and melodic, and easily noticeable, particularly when several males start to sing together. Typically the song continues for some minutes without interruption and it is fairly easy to spot in the sky the singing bird, which moves slowly and vibrantly, wings spread, in circles above its territory, watched by the female. The songs performed during flight are more complex than songs performed on the ground, they can even include imitations of other species. The most frequent call is a rolling tchiirrp or tchiirrip, strongly uttered in migration as a contact call. The repertoire can seem rich, but for simplicity here we just describe the essential.
The Eurasian Skylark is a bird of very open grassland habitats. Originally, it inhabited various types of natural meadows, including mountain meadow, heaths, steppes, and marsh edges.
Behaviour character trait
For all time, the Eurasian Skylark has had to attract the attention of Man with its sound presence in the countryside during the beautiful season.
The Eurasian Skylark has a direct and slightly undulating cruise flight. Its size, silhouette and especially its specific call help with identification, for example when tracking migration.
The Eurasian Skylark looks for its food on the ground by walking calmly with small steps and a hunched back; it does not hop.
The Eurasian Skylark is monogamous. The breeding season begins early in March and continues until summer.
The Eurasian Skylark has a wide distribution throughout the Eurasian continent, from the Atlantic coast to the extreme east of Russia and Japan in temperate latitudes. To the west, it is present from northern Scandinavia to the Maghreb and Turkey. 15 subspecies share this vast space. The birds in Eastern Europe and Asia are migratory and leave their breeding grounds to spend the winter in the Mediterranean Basin, around the Persian Gulf, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, in southern Central Asia and in southeastern China.
Threats - protection
IUCN conservation status
in the Wild
The Eurasian Skylark is a widespread and generally common species, not endangered. However, recent population tracking reveals a distinct decrease in both breeding and migrating individuals. It is easy to imagine the reasons for this. Modern agriculture is often very intensive. The land is worked more frequently. Marginal uncultivated spaces are reduced to practically nothing. Finally, modern practices include the use of inputs, fertilizers, and various pesticides, which have a strong impact on vegetal diversity and the richness of the entomofauna.
Sources of information
- IOC World Bird List (v13.2), Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2023.
- Les passereaux d'Europe, tome 1, P. Géroudet, M. Cuisin
- Birds of the World, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- xeno-canto, Sharing bird sounds from around the world,
Translation by AI Oiseaux.net
published: 12-01-2001 - Updated: 30-10-2020
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