Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Karoo Lark (Calendulauda albescens)


French: Alouette du Karoo German: Karoolerche Spanish: Alondra del Karoo

Alauda albescens


, 1839,

Blouberg, Cape Town, South Africa


Basal to a group comprising C. burra and C. erythrochlamys#R. Hybridizes with C. erythrochlamys barlowi in NW of range (narrow zone between Port Nolloth and R Orange). Geographical variation marked in Northern Cape, with switch from coastal race codea to inland guttata remarkably sharp (complete replacement within a few kilometres) and few intermediates; otherwise, clinal variation between races broad in some areas; other named taxa are saldanhae, an intergrade between nominate and guttata; and calviniensis, intermediate between guttata and karruensis. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. codea (A. Smith, 1843) – Port Nolloth S to Elands Bay, in NW South Africa.
  • C. a. albescens (Lafresnaye, 1839) – Saldanha Bay S to Cape Town.
  • C. a. guttata (Lafresnaye, 1839) – W parts (except coastal areas) of Northern Cape (S from Richtersveld) and W Western Cape.
  • C. a. karruensis Roberts, 1936 – E Western Cape to W Eastern Cape.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 17 cm (male 3–7% lar­ger); male 27–33 g, female 25–29 g. Medium-sized lark with slender, slightly decurved bill and relatively long tail. Nominate... read more


    Male song, in aerial display or from prominent perch or ground, a repeated, stereotyped phrase of 2... read more


    Inhabits shrubland and well-vegetated dunes, usually on sandy soils. Occurs in coastal strandveld,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mostly insects, including grasshoppers (Acrididae), caterpillars, beetles (Coleoptera), termites (Isoptera), mantids, bugs (Hemiptera... read more


    Nests in Jul–Nov; may not breed at all in dry years. Territorial and monogamous; male sings throughout year, but mostly in spring... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common, especially in W of its range. Although coastal populations have suffered loss of habitat through resort development and diamond-mining... read more

    Recommended citation

    Alström, P. & Ryan, P. (2020). Karoo Lark (Calendulauda albescens). 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).