Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)


Taxonomy

French: Alouette des champs German: Feldlerche Spanish: Alondra común
Other common names: Sky Lark
Taxonomy:

Alauda arvensis

Linnaeus

, 1758,

Europe = Sweden

.

Has been considered conspecific with A. gulgula. Race japonica sometimes considered a race of latter species owing to similarities in plumage and structure; alternatively, treated by many as a separate species based on constant differences in plumage and apparent sympatric breeding with race lonnbergi of present species in Sakhalin, but limits of E taxa disputed by others; further study required. Many races described, but distributions and geographical boundaries poorly understood, obscured by considerable individual variation within populations, also by intergradation, and most taxa identifiable only by comparing series of specimens at same stage of plumage wear; validity of some generally accepted taxa remains questionable. Other proposed races sometimes recognized include ticehursti (NW Iberia), included in guillelmi; dementievi (SE of Caspian Sea), in dulcivox; alticola (SE Altai), in kiborti; nigrescens (Amur Basin), in intermedia; and buxtoni (NE coast of Sea of Okhotsk), in pekinensis. Thirteen subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. scotica Tschusi, 1903 – NW Europe (Faroe Is, N & W Scotland, Ireland, NW England).
  • A. a. arvensis Linnaeus, 1758 – Eurasian Skylark – N, W & C Europe (E to W side of Urals). Winters S to N Africa.
  • A. a. guillelmi Witherby, 1921 – NW Spain and N Portugal.
  • A. a. sierrae Weigold, 1913 – S Portugal and C & S Spain.
  • A. a. cantarella Bonaparte, 1850 – S Europe from NE Spain E, including Mediterranean islands, to C & N Turkey and Caucasus.
  • A. a. harterti Whitaker, 1904 – NW Africa.
  • A. a. armenica Bogdanov, 1879 – extreme E Turkey and Transcaucasia E to N Iran.
  • A. a. dulcivox A. O. Hume, 1872 – SE European Russia and W Siberia, S to Kazakhstan, N Afghanistan, NW China (Xinjiang) and SW Mongolia. Winters in SW Asia to NW India.
  • A. a. intermedia Swinhoe, 1863 – NC Siberia from basin of R Vilyuy and middle R Lena E to R Kolyma Basin, S to NE China and Korea. Winters in China.
  • A. a. kiborti Zaliesski, 1917 – Altai E to Transbaikalia, N & E Mongolia and N Inner Mongolia. Winters in China.
  • A. a. pekinensis Swinhoe, 1863 – NE Siberia (from upper R Indigirka) E to Koryakland and S to Kamchatka and N Kuril Is. Winters in Japan and E China.
  • A. a. lonnbergi Hachisuka, 1926 – N Sakhalin, Shantar Is (in SW Sea of Okhotsk), also lower Amur Basin. Winters in Japan, Korea and E China.
  • A. a. japonica Temminck & Schlegel, 1848 – Japanese Skylark – S Sakhalin, S Kurils and Japan. Winters in S Japan and Ryukyu Is.
  • Introduced (scotica) in New Zealand and Australia; nominate in W Canada (Vancouver I); and both races in Hawaii.

    Descriptive notes

    16–19 cm; male c. 35–50 g, female c. 26–40 g (arvensis). Medium-sized, fairly stout lark with shortish bill, fairly long wings with long primary... read more

    Voice

    Male song, in flight, a prolonged, continuous rapid twittering interspersed with slower, generally... read more

    Habitat

    Most open habitats. Strongly associated with farmland throughout much of range, but also occurs on... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small invertebrates and seeds, also other plant material. Primarily insectivorous in breeding season and vegetarian in winter. Nestling... read more

    Breeding

    Late Mar/early Apr to Aug–Sept in most of range, limits dependent on weather and habitat structure (often ceasing at harvesting in... read more

    Movements

    Resident and migratory. Populations in W & S Europe and across S & E limits of range in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally widespread and common throughout range. One of the most widespread breeding species in Europe; total population estimated in 1980s and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Donald, P. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2017). Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/57680 on 21 September 2017).