The Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) is a species of lark distinguished from the other 81 species of lark by the crest of feathers that rise up in territorial or courtship displays and when singing. Common to mainland Europe, the birds can also be found in northern Africa and in parts of western Asia and China. It is a non-migratory bird, but can occasionally be found as a vagrant in Great Britain.
This is a common bird of dry, open country and is often seen by roadsides or in cereal fields, although it is also found occupying small, sandy patches by railways, docks and airfields.
The Crested Lark is a songbird, and has a liquid, warbling song described onomatopoeically as a “whee-whee-wheeoo” or a “twee-tee-too”. It sings in flight from high in the sky, at roughly 30 to 60 metres above the ground. The related Skylark exhibits similar behaviour but also sings during its ascent, whereas the Crested Lark sings either at altitude or on the ground. Their flight pattern is an example of undulatory locomotion.
It nests in small depressions in the ground, often in wastelands and on the outskirts of towns. The nests are untidy structures composed primarily of dead grasses and roots. Three to five brown, finely speckled eggs, similar to those of the Skylark, are laid at a time and will hatch after 11–12 days. As with most larks, the chicks move leave the nest early, after about eight days and take flight after reaching 15–16 days old. Two broods will usually be raised each year.