Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Eastern Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda semitorquata)


French: Alouette du Transvaal German: Transkei-Langschnabellerche Spanish: Alondra de Transvaal

Certhilauda semitorquata

A. Smith

, 1836,

Orange River (= Colesberg), Northern Cape, South Africa


All members of genus except C. chuana formerly treated as a single species, but were broken on largely molecular grounds into five species#R; this arrangement reworked here to make three. Present species differs from C. curvirostris by its much shorter bill (2); greatly reduced streaking above and below (3); and browner ground colour (2); and from C. subcoronata by its slightly shorter bill (1); reduced streaking above and below (2); buffier underparts (1); and parapatric distribution over broad distance at karoo–grassland interface (roughly at 24° E) (3). Geographical variation rather clinal. Three subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. transvaalensis Roberts, 1936 – E South Africa (E North West Province, N Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and N KwaZulu-Natal).
  • C. s. semitorquata A. Smith, 1836 – E Karoo grasslands of South Africa (E Northern Cape, N Eastern Cape, S Free State, KwaZulu-Natal) and Lesotho.
  • C. s. algida Quickelberge, 1967 – S part of Eastern Cape.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–20 cm (male on average 10–14% larger in body measurements, 26% longer bill); 30–48 g. Rather plain plumage, with narrow pale supercilium and eyering; the... read more


    Male song, given throughout year, from favoured rock or in aerial display, a simple, descending... read more


    Grassland, usually on rocky slopes.

    Food and feeding

    Food primarily insects. Feeds by walking on ground. Most prey apparently detected visually; seldom digs for food, but does probe into bases... read more


    Laying from late Sept to Jan, mainly Oct–Dec. Male aerial display close to ground, then rising and falling vertically 10–15 m... read more


    Apparently resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Relatively common but patchily distributed. Occurs at low densities even in favoured habitat, as each pair has a large territory. Owing partly to its... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2020). Eastern Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda semitorquata). 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 27 February 2020).