Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)


French: Cochevis huppé German: Haubenlerche Spanish: Cogujada común

Alauda cristata


, 1758,

Europe = Vienna, Austria


Internal taxonomy extremely complex, with more than 60 races described across species’ huge range, and strong correlation of plumage ground colour and intensity of streaking with environmental factors, even within range of a given race (e.g. within range of olive-grey apuliae in S Italy, ash-grey birds from E Calabria named “heraelaciniae”); also well-marked variation, tending to be clinal, in body size, wing length and, especially, bill length. In general, differences among races slight and intergradation also evident, but two major clades identified#R (treated as subspecies groups here). Geographical areas of special difficulty, where several races meet and establishment of neat frontiers among them appears impossible, include Morocco, Nile Valley, Near East and Turkey; in Morocco, race macrorhyncha (with randonii) found to meet races riggenbachi, kleinschmidti (“cristata”) and carthaginis in a zone so narrow that this and supposedly distinctive characters (greater size and bill length) combine to suggest species status for macrorhyncha#R#R#R, but other taxa may be similar in body and bill size (e.g. arenicola), and macrorhyncha and randonii inadequately sampled geographically so that “more research is needed on the circumscription and nomenclature of these taxa”#R. Birds from NW Spain sometimes attributed to nominate race. Besides listed races, others described include madaraszi from S Croatia (Dalmatia) and muehlii from Greece, both included in meridionalis; moltschanowi from Crimea, in tenuirostris; ioniae from W Turkey (Izmir region), magdae from S Caspian region and submagna from Transcaspia, all in caucasica; weigoldi and ankarae from Turkey, in subtaurica; retrusa from N China (Gansu) and alaschanica from Inner Mongolia (Alxa), in magna; vamberyi from Karakum Desert (Turkmenistan), in iwanowi; gafsae, whitakeri and deprimozi from Tunisia, all in arenicola; deltae from Nile Delta, in nigricans; imami from Yemen and thomsi from N Oman (Muscat), in tardinata; moeritica from N Egypt (Faiyum), in maculata; caroli from Egypt, nubica from Ethiopia and eritreae from Eritrea, all in altirostris; and courtoti from W Chad and zalingei from W Sudan, both in alexanderi. Thirty-seven subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. c. cristata (Linnaeus, 1758) – Crested Lark – C Europe from Denmark E to Belarus, S to France, N Italy, N Croatia, N Hungary and N Ukraine.
  • G. c. pallida C. L. Brehm, 1858 – Iberian Peninsula.
  • G. c. neumanni Hilgert, 1907 – W Italy (Toscana S to Rome area).
  • G. c. apuliae Jordans, 1935 – S peninsular Italy and Sicily.
  • G. c. tenuirostris C. L. Brehm, 1858 – #RE Hungary, E Croatia and Romania E to S Russia (S to N Caucasus region) and W Kazakhstan.
  • G. c. meridionalis C. L. Brehm, 1841 – W Croatia S to S Bulgaria, Greece (including Ionian Is and Crete) and W Turkey.
  • G. c. caucasica Taczanowski, 1888 – E Aegean Is (Samothrace S to Samos), N Turkey, S Caucasus and W Transcaucasia.
  • G. c. subtaurica (Kollibay, 1912) – C Turkey E to S Transcaucasia, NW Iran and W Turkmenistan, S to N & E Iraq.
  • G. c. cypriaca Bianchi, 1907 – Rhodes, Karpathos and Cyprus.
  • G. c. zion R. Meinertzhagen, 1920 – S Turkey, Syria, E Lebanon and E Israel (S to Jerusalem).
  • G. c. cinnamomina E. J. O. Hartert, 1904 – W Lebanon (S from Beirut) and NW Israel (Mt Carmel and Haifa).
  • G. c. magna A. O. Hume, 1871 – S Kazakhstan E to S Mongolia and N China (Xinjiang E to N Gansu and Inner Mongolia).
  • G. c. leautungensis (Swinhoe, 1861) – #RHeilongjiang and NE China.
  • G. c. coreensis Taczanowski, 1888 – Korea.
  • G. c. iwanowi Loudon & Zarudny, 1903 – C Turkmenistan and C & S Iran E to S Tajikistan, Afghanistan and NW Pakistan.
  • G. c. lynesi Whistler, 1928 – N Kashmir (Gilgit Valley).
  • G. c. kleinschmidti Erlanger, 1899 – NW Morocco (E to Rif Mts, S to Middle Atlas).
  • G. c. riggenbachi E. J. O. Hartert, 1902 – W Morocco (Casablanca S to Sous Valley).
  • G. c. carthaginis O. Kleinschmidt & Hilgert, 1905 – coastal region from NE Morocco E to N Tunisia (E to Sousse).
  • G. c. balsaci Dekeyser & Villiers, 1950 – coastal Mauritania.
  • G. c. arenicola Tristram, 1859 – NE Algerian Sahara (E from Biskra and Ouargla), S Tunisia (S of Gafsa and Sfax) and NW Libya (Tripolitania).
  • G. c. helenae Lavauden, 1926 – SE Algeria and probably neighbouring SW Libya.
  • G. c. festae E. J. O. Hartert, 1922 – coastal NE Libya (Benghazi E to Tubruq).
  • G. c. brachyura Tristram, 1865 – NE Libya (inland Cyrenaica), coastal N Egypt (E to Alexandria), and from N Sinai Peninsula and S Israel (Negev and Dead Sea region) E to S Iraq and N Saudi Arabia.
  • G. c. nigricans C. L. Brehm, 1855 – N Egypt (Nile Delta).
  • G. c. maculata C. L. Brehm, 1858 – Nile Valley from Cairo S to Aswan (Egypt).
  • G. c. halfae Nicoll, 1921 – Nile Valley from Aswan S to extreme N Sudan (Wadi Halfa).
  • G. c. senegallensis (Statius Müller, 1776) – S Mauritania and Senegambia E to Niger; also N Ghana.
  • G. c. jordansi Niethammer, 1955 – N Niger (Aïr Mts).
  • G. c. alexanderi Neumann, 1908 – N Nigeria E to W Sudan, and NE Central African Republic.
  • G. c. isabellina Bonaparte, 1850 – C Sudan (Kordofan E to R Nile).
  • G. c. altirostris C. L. Brehm, 1855 – E Sudan (E from Nile Valley) and Eritrea.
  • G. c. somaliensis Reichenow, 1907 – N Somalia, S Ethiopia and N Kenya.
  • G. c. tardinata E. J. O. Hartert, 1904 – S (perhaps also W) Arabia.
  • G. c. chendoola (Franklin, 1831) – S Kashmir foothills S to E Pakistan, W & N India (E to Bihar) and S Nepal.
  • G. c. randonii Loche, 1860 – Hauts Plateaux of E Morocco (E of upper R Moulouya) and NW Algeria.
  • G. c. macrorhyncha Tristram, 1859 – Maghreb Lark – S Morocco and NW Algeria S of Saharan Atlas (E to Laghouat and Ghardaia) S to WC Mauritania (Atar area).
  • Descriptive notes

    17–19 cm; c. 35–50 g. Medium-sized, rather bulky lark with prominent long, spiky crest, rather long bill, relatively short and broad wings rounded at tip, very... read more


    Male song, from ground or low perch or in flight, a long and varied combination of whistles,... read more


    In most of range, typical species of dry plains with sparse vegetation cover and dry cultivations;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, seeds and green material; mainly invertebrates in spring-summer and seeds during autumn-winter. Very wide assortment of... read more


    Season mainly Mar–Jun/Jul in N parts of range, from Apr in Spain; in Afrotropics, laying Sept–Jun in Senegambia, Apr–May... read more


    Predominantly resident. Sedentary in much of range; some dispersive movement in C Europe and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common in many parts of huge range, extent of which is almost largest of all alaudids (second only to that of ... read more

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E. & Suárez, F. (2020). Crested Lark (Galerida cristata). 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).