Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)


French: Alouette calandrelle German: Kurzzehenlerche Spanish: Terrera común

Alauda brachydactila

[sic] Leisler

, 1814,

Montpellier, France


Closely related to C. cinerea, with which often merged, and to C. blanfordi, C. eremica and C. acutirostris; until recently considered conspecific with C. dukhunensis (which see). Geographical variation slight and clinal—becoming paler and greyer to E, more rufous and streaked above to W—but greatly complicated by strong influence of wear, considerable individual variation and lack of natural boundaries; described ranges of listed taxa somewhat arbitrary. Races artemisiana, hermonensis and woltersi all intergrade in S Turkey; birds from Ukraine intermediate between nominate and longipennis, and those from Ural-Volga steppes, the Caucasus, E Iran and N Afghanistan between latter race and artemisiana. In addition, populations from E Altai and S Siberia have been separated as race orientalis and those from Inner Mongolia as puii, but differences from typical longipennis appear minor. Validity of race hungarica sometimes disputed, mainly on grounds that tiny population is apparently boosted by periodic influxes from elsewhere. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. b. brachydactyla (Leisler, 1814) – Europe from W, NC & S France and Iberia E (including many Mediterranean islands) to Italy, the Balkans and Romania (possibly to Ukraine and S Russia), apparently also in some parts of Mediterranean coast of NW Africa; winters N Africa and Mauritania E to Somalia.
  • C. b. hungarica Horváth, 1956 – S Slovakia, Hungary, N Serbia (Vojvodina) and extreme W Romania.
  • C. b. longipennis (Eversmann, 1848) – Ukraine, N Caucasus and Iran E to W Mongolia and NW China (Xinjiang); winters mainly S Asia.
  • C. b. rubiginosa Fromholz, 1913 – NW Africa from Morocco and N Western Sahara E to NW Libya (W Tripolitania); also Malta.
  • C. b. hermonensis Tristram, 1865 – S Turkey and Syria S to NE Sinai Peninsula.
  • C. b. woltersi Kumerloeve, 1969 – S Turkey (Amik Gölü, Gaziantep, Birecik) and extreme NW Syria.
  • C. b. artemisiana Banjkowski, 1913 – Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Transcaucasia, E Iraq and SW & N Iran; perhaps this subspecies in C & E Arabia#R; winters mainly in SW Asia.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm; 16–24 g (rubiginosa), 19–25 g (longipennis). Small, neat, pale, short-billed lark with long tertials almost cloaking tips of... read more


    Song, in aerial display, less often from ground, clear and musical but rather monotonous, with... read more


    Dry areas with sparse and low vegetation cover, on level or undulating terrain, with sandy or stony... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly invertebrates during spring, also seeds and green parts of plants in other seasons. Invertebrate food very diverse, variable among... read more


    Lays in May–Jul in SW Europe and from mid-Apr in SE Europe; from early Apr in N Africa and Israel; two broods per season. Male song... read more


    Mostly migratory; only partially migratory in S of Palearctic range, and sedentary in Transcaucasia... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to locally abundant in many parts of very extensive range. Estimated European population 2,500,000–3,500,000 pairs, vast... read more

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E., Suárez, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla). 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 25 February 2020).