Greater Short toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)

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The Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla) or sometimes just Short-toed Lark (but see below) is a small passerine bird.

Several subspecies have been named but there is considerable geneflow and the species itself forms part of a larger complex. This is a small pale lark, smaller than the Skylark. It is dark-streaked greyish-brown above, and white below, and has a strong pointed bill that is pinkish with a gray culmen. It has a pale supercilium, dark patches on each side of its neck and a dark tail. Some birds in the west of the range have a rufous crown. The sexes are similar. Subspecies longipennis is paler than dukhunensis which also has a shorter bill. In winter they fly in large and compact flocks that swing in synchrony. Care must be taken to distinguish this species from other similar Calandrella larks, such as the

All but some southernmost populations are migratory, wintering south to the southern edge of the Sahara and India. This species is a fairly common wanderer to northern and western Europe in spring and autumn.

This is a common bird of dry open country and cultivation. It nests on the ground, laying two to three eggs. Its food is seeds and insects, the latter especially in the breeding season.

photo: Mihai BACIU


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