Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Horsfield's Bushlark (Mirafra javanica)


French: Alouette de Java German: Horsfieldlerche Spanish: Alondra de Java
Other common names: Horsfield's Lark

Mirafra Javanica


, 1821,



Relationship with African congeners unknown. Race cantillans (with chadensis, marginata and simplex) sometimes treated as a separate species, but recent molecular evidence indicates virtually no genetic differences#R and vocal differences also relatively slight (albeit based on few recordings). Geographical variation to some extent correlated with colour of local soil substrate and regional humidity, and there is much presumed convergence in appearance among taxa; only Australian and mainland SE Asian races revised recently; further study needed. Race woodwardi sometimes considered a separate species. Proposed race beaulieui (S Vietnam) included in williamsoni, sepikiana (NC New Guinea) in aliena (timorensis sometimes also included)#R, subrufescens (NW Australia) in forresti or halli#R, normantoni (NE Australia) in rufescens, and keasti (SE South Australia) in horsfieldii. Twenty subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. j. chadensis Alexander, 1908 – Sahel zone of Africa from Senegal and S Mauritania E to extreme W Eritrea.
  • M. j. marginata Hawker, 1898 – Eritrea (except extreme W), N & S Ethiopia, NW & S Somalia, S South Sudan, NE Uganda, NW, C & S Kenya and NE Tanzania.
  • M. j. simplex (Heuglin, 1868) – SW Saudi Arabia, Yemen and W Oman.
  • M. j. cantillans Blyth, 1845 – Singing Bushlark – N & S Pakistan, India and W Nepal. Possibly SE Bangladesh.
  • M. j. williamsoni E. C. S. Baker, 1915 – locally in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and extreme S China.
  • M. j. philippinensis Wardlaw-Ramsay, 1886 – N Philippines (Luzon, Mindoro).
  • M. j. mindanensis Hachisuka, 1931 – S Philippines (Negros, Mindanao).
  • M. j. javanica Horsfield, 1821 – Australasian Bushlark – S Borneo, Java and Bali.
  • M. j. parva Swinhoe, 1871 – Lesser Sundas (Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Solor, Lembata).
  • M. j. timorensis Mayr, 1944 – Sawu and Timor.
  • M. j. aliena Greenway, 1935 – N, NE & S New Guinea.
  • M. j. melvillensis Mathews, 1912 – Melville I, N Australia.
  • M. j. halli Bianchi, 1907 – N Western Australia.
  • M. j. woodwardi Milligan, 1901 – extreme NW Western Australia.
  • M. j. forresti Mayr & McEvey, 1960 – NE Western Australia.
  • M. j. soderbergi Mathews, 1921 – N Australia (N Northern Territory).
  • M. j. rufescens C. Ingram, 1906 – E Northern Territory, NW Queensland and NE South Australia.
  • M. j. athertonensis Schodde & Mason, 1999 – NE Queensland (Atherton-Evelyn Tablelands).
  • M. j. secunda Sharpe, 1890 – S South Australia.
  • M. j. horsfieldii Gould, 1847 – SE Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    13·5–15 cm. Large-billed lark with fairly short tail and wings. Nominate race has fairly indistinct head pattern, with buffish supercilium; rather dark grey-... read more


    Song, either from perch (usually not high) or in towering song flight, of rather short, varied... read more


    Favours open habitats, such as grasslands with scattered bushes and trees, stubble fields and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Poorly known. Takes seeds (especially of Gramineae) and insects, e.g. beetles (Coleoptera), ants (Formicidae) and caterpillars. Forages on... read more


    Little studied. Season in SE Asia probably mid-Feb or late Feb to at least late Jul; Sept–Apr in Australia (Sept–Jan in S, in N... read more


    Mainly sedentary or, at least in Australia, locally and regionally nomadic.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally fairly common through much of range; uncommon in Philippines. No population estimates available for any region.

    Recommended citation

    Alström, P. (2019). Horsfield's Bushlark (Mirafra javanica). 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 15 December 2019).