Eremophila alpestris
(Horned Lark)

Order: Passeriformes
Order Description: Passerines
Family: Alaudidae
Family Description: Larks

Physical Description:
7-8" (18-20 cm). Brown above and white below; small, black "horns", black moustache, and black bibClick word for definition; yellow wash on throat and face. Immatures have darker back and brown spotted faces.

Male sings a tinkling song that ends emphatically.

Breeds from northernmost North America, south to southern Baja California, southern Mexico, Louisiana, northern Alabama, and North Carolina. Winters in southern Canada, south through breeding range, and locally and irregularly to Gulf Coast and Florida.

Found in grasslands, tundra, sandy regions, shrub steppeClick word for definition, grazed pastures, stubble fields, open cultivated areas, and (rarely) open areas in forest.

Eats mainly seeds and some insects.

Obtains most food from ground surface. Builds nest in depression on ground. Female may perform distraction displays. In Nevada study, breeding density was 1.3-1.5 individuals/ha in shadscale habitat. Horned Lark is one of the most abundant birds in deserts of southern Idaho.

Egg-laying occurs early March at northern end of range. Female incubatesClick word for definition 2-7 eggs (commonly 4) for 10-14 days. Females produce 1 broodClick word for definition annually at higher latitudes and elevations, 2 or possibly 3 at lower ones. Young are tended by both parents, and leave nest at 9-12 days. Idaho study found grazing may have delayed onset of nesting activities.

Element Code: ABPAT02010
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5,NTMB
National Rank: N5B,N5N

Important State References:
Reynolds, T.D. and C.H. Trost. 1981. Grazing, crested wheatgrass, and bird populations in southeastern Idaho. Northwest Sci. 55:225-234.

Original images provided by J. A. Spendelow,© 2000
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.