Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Cape Clapper Lark (Mirafra apiata)


French: Alouette bateleuse German: Grasklapperlerche Spanish: Alondra aplaudidora de El Cabo

Alauda apiata


, 1816,

Swartland = Malmesbury, Western Cape, South Africa


Previously treated as conspecific with M. fasciolata, but separated on basis of plumage, morphology, display and genetic differences (distant divergence recently confirmed)#R; boundary between the two species in Eastern Cape requires investigation. Race marjoriae also genetically distinct, but plumage differences from nominate slight; further study needed. Nominate shows clinal variation in overall coloration, from generally more rufous birds in extreme W South Africa (proposed race adendorffi) towards darker birds in S, but these extremes virtually matched by notable individual variation at any one site. Proposed race algoensis (Port Elizabeth area) very similar to nominate, and not reliably separable, especially in view of marked individual variation within nominate. Two subspecies recognized

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. apiata (Vieillot, 1816) – Cape Clapper Lark – SW Namibia and W coastal plain and interior of South Africa (Northern Cape and Western Cape E to Grahamstown).
  • M. a. marjoriae Winterbottom, 1956 – Agulhas Clapper Lark – coastal plain of Western Cape (from Cape Town E to Knysna).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; 23–33 g. Fairly small, compact lark with plain face, rather dark plumage, distinctive fast wing-clapping display. Is heavily mottled chestnut, dark... read more


    True song replaced by aerial wing-clapping display, accompanied by a simple, ascending whistle,... read more


    Prefers densely vegetated habitats; favours areas with restios such as sand-plain fynbos and arid... read more

    Food and feeding

    Little known. Probably mostly insects and some seeds. Feeds on the ground. Rather unobtrusive; if approached, prefers to creep away rather... read more


    Aug–Oct. Probably monogamous; territorial. Display tends to be strongly seasonal, linked to breeding activity; displaying male moves... read more


    Resident. Atlas survey records strongly seasonal, but this reflects seasonal differences in species... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in many parts of range. Despite extensive habitat loss to agriculture in coastal lowlands of Western Cape, it remains reasonably common in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2019). Cape Clapper Lark (Mirafra apiata). 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 15 November 2019).