Horned larks are birds of wide open spaces with no trees and few or no shrubs. Horned Lark. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Avian Conservation Assessment Database. Horned Larks walk or run over open ground as they search for seeds and insects. Horned Larks also frequent areas cleared by humans, such as plowed fields and mowed expanses around airstrips. Horned Larks breed in a wide range of habitats, so it’s helpful to have information for our population and how it compares to populations breeding in alpine, desert, or grassland environments. The specific name of the Horned lark 'alpestris' comes from Latin and means 'of the high mountains', from Alpes, the Alps. The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Horned larks are widespread songbirds found across the northern hemisphere. Fighting pairs fly at each other, rising up to 50 feet straight up into the air, pecking and clawing. Two to four days after preparing the site, she begins weaving her nest from grass, small roots, shredded cornstalks, and other plant material, then lines it with down, fur, feathers, fine rootlets, even lint and string. They also sing in flight and their song consists of a few chips followed by a warbling, ascending trill. Horned larks forage on the ground walking or running around in search of insects and seeds. Available from http://rmbo.org/pifassessment. In wintertime, flocks of Horned Larks, often mixing with other birds of open ground, can be seen along roadsides, in feedlots, and on fields spread with waste grain and manure. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Horned larks are diurnal and gregarious; they form large flocks often with other species but during the breeding season they are often seen in pairs or small groups. National population sizes have been estimated at around 100-10,000 breeding pairs, around 50-1,000 individuals on migration and 50-1,000 wintering individuals in China and less than 1,000 individuals on migration and less than 1,000 wintering individuals in Japan. There is also an isolated population on a plateau in Colombia. The nest site is selected in the early spring by only the female and is either a natural depression in the bare ground or she digs a cavity using her bill and feet. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. A. and A. S. Love. Linnaeus named this bird Alauda alpestris: “lark of the mountains” … These are birds of open ground. She either chooses a natural depression in which to build the nest or excavates the site herself, a process that can take a couple of days. (2014). As ground nesters, Horned Larks and their eggs and young are vulnerable to predation by birds and by mammals—including meadow voles, shrews, deer mice, weasels, skunks, and raccoons. They are mainly brown-grey above and pale below, with a striking black and yellow face pattern. They are mainly brown-grey above and pale below, with a striking black and yellow face pattern. Horned larks are serially monogamous and pairs stay together for one season. Males defend territories from other males and females will occasionally chase away intruding females. POWERED BY MERLIN. At high altitudes and latitudes, Horned Larks forage on snowfields in the late afternoon, though they mostly feed in areas free of snow.Back to top, Horned Larks eat seeds and insects. Horned larks are widespread songbirds found across the northern hemisphere. Streaked horned larks are endemic to lowland habitats west of the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest (i.e. They breed in the tundra and alpine habitats, and on seashore flats. Horned Larks forage in pairs or small groups during breeding season, but form large nomadic flocks in winter—often mixing with other bird species, including Tree Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings. Horned larks are threatened by the loss of habitat due to agricultural pesticides, urbanization, and human encroachment. Habitat + 4. Loss of agricultural fields to reforestation and development, and human encroachment on the birds’ habitat, are factors in their decline—but the overall declining trend is not fully understood. They feed their nestlings mostly insects, which provide the protein the young birds need to grow. Passeriformes > Alaudidae. Most of our nest searching takes place in the morning or late afternoon/evening when the birds are most active. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 120 million, with 62% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 17% in Canada, and 9% wintering in Mexico. Each population is able to adapt to the color of their environment. She weaves fines grasses, cornstalks, small roots, and other plant material and lines it with down, fur, feathers, and occasionally lint. (2014). Insect prey are mainly grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars. Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.horlar.01 In North America, where there are no other larks to compete with, they can also be found on farmland, on prairies, in deserts, on golf courses and airports. Appears squatty with short legs and low profile body. Courting is composed of the male singing to the female while flying above her in circles. Partners in Flight (2017). Eremophila alpestris. (2019). Dark pearl gray to pale gray spotted with cinnamon brown or brownish-olive. Back to top. The horned lark breeds across much of North America from the high Arctic south to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, northernmost Europe and Asia and in the mountains of southeast Europe. During the breeding season, they become very territorial. Horned Larks glean most of their food from the ground, but they sometimes perch on plants to harvest seeds from seed heads. Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris), version 2.0. Horned larks are hard to see because they blend with their environment and become inconspicuous. The female Horned Lark selects a nest site on bare ground, apparently with no help from her mate. Version 2.07.2017. Horned Larks inhabit an extensive elevation range, from sea level to an altitude of 13,000 feet. Back to top. Sand, dirt, gravel flats are home, unlike preferences of most songbirds. It is mainly resident in the south of its range, but northern populations of this passerine bird are migratory, moving further south in winter.
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