Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut-headed Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix signatus)


French: Moinelette d’Oustalet German: Harlekinlerche Spanish: Terrera señalada

Pyrrhulauda signata


, 1886,



Relationships uncertain; closest known relatives are E. verticalis and E. griseus#R. Race harrisoni weakly differentiated, perhaps indistinguishable from nominate. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. s. signatus (Oustalet, 1886) – E & S Ethiopia, N, C & S Somalia and E Kenya.
  • E. s. harrisoni (Ogilvie-Grant, 1900) – extreme SE South Sudan and NW Kenya.
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 16 g. Small, sexually dimorphic lark resembling a finch (Fringillidae). Adult male is strikingly marked, head and breast boldly patterned black and white,... read more


    Male has short twittering song; also reported as giving series of rising, mournful notes as well as... read more


    Semi-arid and arid plains with grassland, savanna, and clearings in open woodland, from sea-level... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly grass seeds; chicks fed with at least some insects. Forages on the ground. In flocks of up to 40 individuals outside breeding season... read more


    Apr–Jul. Probably monogamous; nests singly. Male performs aerial display 6–10 m above territory. Nest an open cup built from... read more


    Resident and locally nomadic. Apparently largely sedentary in core of range, but subject to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally fairly common, but usually outnumbered by E. nigriceps. Can be locally abundant when conditions are favourable. Irruptions into... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2020). Chestnut-headed Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix signatus). 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 18 February 2020).