Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Black-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)


French: Moinelette à front blanc German: Weißstirnlerche Spanish: Terrera negrita

Pyrrhalauda [sic] nigriceps


, 1839,

São Tiago, Cape Verde Islands


Relationships previously considered obscure, but genetic data suggest closest to E. griseus#R. Geographical variation largely clinal, size increasing from W to E. Birds of Socotra described as race forbeswatsoni, but appear indistinguishable from melanauchen, of which sincipitalis (Arabia) is also a synonym#R. Race albifrons may not be separable from nominate#R. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. n. nigriceps (Gould, 1839) – Cape Verde Is.
  • E. n. albifrons (Sundevall, 1850) – Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal E to Sudan (E to R Nile).
  • E. n. melanauchen (Cabanis, 1851) – E Sudan E to extreme S Iraq, Kuwait and C & S Arabian Peninsula, and S to Somalia and Socotra.
  • E. n. affinis (Blyth, 1867) – SE Iran E to Pakistan and NW India.
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11 cm; 12–16 g. Small, sexually dimorphic lark resembling a finch (Fringillidae); diagnostic white forehead, rarely absent (one bird from Sudan). Adult male... read more


    Male song, in aerial display or from low vantage such as bush or rock on ground, considerably... read more


    Arid and semi-arid plains with scattered grass and other low-lying vegetation; prefers sandy soils... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily seeds of grasses and other plants; also insects and other invertebrates, including grasshoppers (Acrididae), beetles (Coleoptera... read more


    Nesting mostly in association with rainfall, typically in summer in most of range, but also opportunistically, whenever conditions suitable... read more


    Most populations, even small island ones, subject to some local movements, following favourable... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common throughout much of range. Breeding density up to 1 pair/3 ha in favourable conditions. Desertification in W Africa has led to... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2020). Black-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix nigriceps). 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 on 20 February 2020).