Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Karoo Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda subcoronata)


French: Alouette du Namaland German: Karoo-Langschnabellerche Spanish: Alondra piquilarga

Certhilauda subcoronata

A. Smith

, 1843,

Deelfontein, Northern Cape, South Africa


For years considered conspecific with C. semitorquata and C. curvirostris before this complex was broken into five species#R, including race benguelensis of present species. However, that arrangement suffered from uncertainty over whether race damarensis belonged with morphologically and vocally very similar benguelensis; hence benguelensis (with race kaokoensis) is reabsorbed into present species, which differs from C. semitorquata in characters given under that species, and from C. curvirostris by its shorter bill (2), reduced streaking on underparts (2) and buffier ground colour (1), but apparently narrowly sympatric in certain places (see C. curvirostris). Race gilli intergrades with nominate, and bradshawi with damarensis. Six subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. benguelensis (Sharpe, 1904) – Benguela Long-billed Lark – SW Angola and extreme NW Namibia.
  • C. s. kaokoensis Bradfield, 1944 – NW Namibia S to about Brandberg.
  • C. s. damarensis (Sharpe, 1904) – C Namibia.
  • C. s. bradshawi (Sharpe, 1904) – S Namibia and NW South Africa (Bushmanland).
  • C. s. subcoronata A. Smith, 1843 – Karoo Long-billed Lark – W South Africa (from Kenhardt area S to C Karoo).
  • C. s. gilli Roberts, 1936 – S Karoo (from Touwsrivier E to Beaufort West).
  • Descriptive notes

    18–22 cm (male on average 12–14% larger in body measurements, 28% longer bill); 31–55 g. Moderately streaked plumage, with narrow pale supercilium and... read more


    Male song, given throughout year, a descending whistle, “peeoooo”, in S of range... read more


    Semi-arid Karoo shrublands and fore-Namib mountains; especially abundant in the Nama Karoo. Favours... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food includes wide variety of insects and spiders; also seeds, fruits and small corms, but apparently few, if any, grass seeds. Forages on... read more


    Season varies geographically: breeds after winter rains in SW, eggs Sept–Oct; later, in Nov–Dec, in C Karoo, and even later,... read more


    Apparently resident. Counts in S Karoo revealed erratic fluctuations in population density, but... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to very common in most of range; widely distributed in W interior of S Africa. Particularly numerous in C Karoo, where it reaches the highest... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2020). Karoo Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda subcoronata). 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 26 February 2020).