Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Cape Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda curvirostris)


French: Alouette à long bec German: Kap-Langschnabellerche Spanish: Alondra de El Cabo

Alauda curvirostris


, 1783,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


For years considered conspecific with C. semitorquata and C. subcoronata before this complex was broken into five species#R, including race brevirostris of present species; however, brevirostris is at S end of a cline of diminishing bill size (statement in HBW accidentally reversed), and diagnostic characters minor, with song reportedly the same#R#R. Range of race curvirostris overlaps narrowly with C. subcoronata in N (on E edge of Namaqualand coastal plain N of Port Nolloth), and that of race brevirostris may overlap with C. subcoronata in Breede Valley. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. falcirostris Reichenow, 1916 – coastal plain from extreme SW Namibia S to W South Africa (S to R Olifants).
  • C. c. curvirostris (Hermann, 1783) – Cape Long-billed Lark – coastal plain from R Olifants S to Cape Town.
  • C. c. brevirostris Roberts, 1941 – Agulhas Long-billed Lark – Agulhas Plain and Breede Valley, in Western Cape.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–24 cm (male on average 12–19% larger than female, with greatest difference in bill length); 40–60 g. Largest lark in S Africa, with long decurved bill,... read more


    In S (nominate race), male song, in display-flight or from low perch or ground, “whi-peeeooo... read more


    Short coastal scrub (strandveld) and dune vegetation, usually where open areas of sandy soil... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet poorly known; mostly insects, e.g. beetles (Coleoptera) and caterpillars, also a few seeds. Forages by walking on ground, searching at... read more


    Breeds Aug–Oct. Usually in pairs throughout year. Male sings in all months, at peak intensity in late winter-spring in association... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. Occurs always at relatively low densities, c. 1 pair/10 ha. Although much of its coastal habitat in N of range has been disturbed by... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2020). Cape Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda curvirostris). 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).