Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys)


French: Bruant noir et blanc German: Prärieammer Spanish: Chingolo albinegro

Calamospiza melanocorys


, 1885,

plains of Platte River = Nebraska, USA


Plumage dichromatism and elaborate aerial displays reminiscent of Chestnut-collared Longspur (Calcarius ornatus) and McCown’s Longspur (Rhynchophanes mccownii), but not closely related. Monotypic.


S Canada (S Alberta E to SW Manitoba) and S in Great Plains of USA (E to Dakotas, rarely W Minnesota) to SE New Mexico, N Texas, W Oklahoma and C Kansas; has bred in wet years in E California. Non-breeding from S Arizona E to SW Kansas, W Oklahoma and C & W Texas, S in Mexico to S Baja California, N Sinaloa, Coahuila (uncommon), NE Jalisco and C Tamaulipas.

Descriptive notes

14–18 cm; 29·5–51·5 g. A large sparrow with large, conical bill and relatively short, notched tail. Male breeding is mostly black, sometimes flecked... read more


Song, often in flight, a musical mixture of short notes and slurred phrases, “kazee kazee... read more


Short-grass prairie with bare ground and sparse, scattered shrubs e.g. sagebrush (Artemisia... read more

Food and feeding

Diet in summer more than 60% animal items, especially short-horned grasshoppers (Acrididae) and beetles (Coleoptera), particularly scarabs... read more


Nest-building and egg-laying from early to middle of May in S part of range and late May in N, but can be delayed by up to two weeks in... read more


Migratory; routes largely through Great Plains and S Canadian Prairies. Earliest N departures from... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Classified as “Declining” in the USA (Yellow WatchList priority species for conservation). Often common or very common in appropriate habitat.... read more

Recommended citation

Rising, J. (2020). Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys). 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 24 February 2020).