7-8" (18-20 cm). Brown above and white below; small, black "horns", black moustache, and black bib; 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 steppe, 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 incubates 2-7 eggs (commonly 4) for 10-14 days. Females produce 1 brood 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.
|Status:||Protected nongame species|
Reynolds, T.D. and C.H. Trost. 1981. Grazing, crested wheatgrass, and bird populations in southeastern Idaho. Northwest Sci. 55:225-234.