Eurasian Skylark

Eurasian Skylark

Northern skylark, Sky lark

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Alauda arvensis
Population size
290-530 mln
Life Span
4-10 yrs
WEIGHT
17-55 g
LENGTH
18-19 cm
WINGSPAN
30-36 cm

The Eurasian skylark is a dull-looking passerine bird widespread across Europe and the Palearctic. It is a bird of open farmland and heath, known for the song of the male, which is delivered in hovering flight from heights of 50 to 100 meters (160 to 330 ft). The males and the females look alike; they are streaked greyish-brown above and on the breast and have a buff-white belly.

Distribution

Eurasian skylarks breed across most of Europe and Asia and in the mountains of North Africa. They are mainly residents in the west of their range, but eastern populations are more migratory, moving further south in winter. Even in the milder west of their range, many birds move to lowlands and the coast in winter. Asian birds, appear as vagrants in Alaska. Eurasian skylarks inhabit farmlands, heathland, grasslands, meadows, steppes, coastal dunes, and edges of marshes.

Eurasian Skylark habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Eurasian skylarks are diurnal birds; they feed by day walking over the ground searching for food on the soil surface. They are usually seen alone or in pairs but will gather in flocks during migration and at times of serve weather. Eurasian skylarks are famous for the song of the male, when the singing bird may appear as just a dot in the sky from the ground. The long, unbroken song is a clear, bubbling warble delivered high in the air while the bird is rising, circling, or hovering. The song generally lasts 2 to 3 minutes, but it tends to last longer later in the mating season when songs can last for 20 minutes or more.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Eurasian skylarks are omnivores and their diet consists of insects and plant material such as seeds and young leaves.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
starts in late March/early April
INCUBATION PERIOD
11 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
25 days
BABY NAME
chick
BABY CARRYING
3-5 eggs

Eurasian larks are monogamous breeders and form pairs. Nesting may start in late March or early April and pairs can raise up to 4 broods in a season. The nest is built by the female alone and is a shallow depression in the ground lined with grasses. The clutch is 3 to 5 eggs. They are incubated only by the female beginning after the last egg is laid and hatch synchronously after 11 days. The altricial (helpless) chicks are cared for by both parents and for the first week are fed almost exclusively on insects. The chicks leave the nest after 8 to 10 days, well before they can fly. They scatter and hide in the vegetation but continue to be fed by the parents until they can fly at 18 to 20 days of age. The young are independent of their parents after around 25 days and start to breed when they are one year of age.

Population

Population threats

Eurasian skylarks are threatened mainly due to changes in farming practices and only partly due to pesticides. In the past, cereals were planted in the spring, grown through the summer, and harvested in the early autumn. Cereals are now planted in the autumn, grown through the winter, and are harvested in the early summer. The winter-grown fields are much too dense in summer for Eurasian skylarks to be able to walk and run between the wheat stems to find their food.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Eurasian skylark is 290,000,000-529,999,999 mature individuals. In Europe, the breeding population consists of 44,300,000-78,800,000 pairs, which equates to 88,700,000-158,000,000 mature individuals. National population estimates include around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and around 1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in China; less than 50 individuals on migration and less than 50 wintering individuals in Taiwan; around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and around 1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Korea; around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and around 1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and around 1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The scientific name of the Eurasian skylark is roughly translated as "lark of the field".
  • The verb "skylark", originally used by sailors, means "play tricks or practical jokes; indulge in horseplay, frolic".
  • The male Eurasian skylark has broader wings than the female. This adaptation for more efficient hovering flight may have evolved because of females' preference for males that sing and hover for longer periods and so demonstrate that they are likely to have good overall fitness.

References

1. Eurasian Skylark on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_skylark
2. Eurasian Skylark on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/102998555/132039889

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