Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Oriental Skylark (Alauda gulgula)


French: Alouette gulgule German: Orientfeldlerche Spanish: Alondra oriental

Alauda Gulgula


, 1831,

Ganges between Calcutta and Varanasi (Benares), east India


Has been considered conspecific with A. arvensis, and these two are probably sisters#R. A. arvensis japonica sometimes included in present species due to similarities in plumage and structure. Geographical variation to some extent clinal, size decreasing from N to S. Other proposed races include punjaubi (Pakistan and NW India) and transcaspia (Turkmenistan), merged with inconspicua; dharmakumarsinhjii (Gujarat, in WC India), australis (SW India) and herberti (C & SE Thailand E to S Vietnam), included in nominate; sala (Hainan), included in coelivox; and wolfei (Luzon, in Philippines), merged with wattersi. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. g. inconspicua Severtsov, 1873 – S & E Kazakhstan, W Kyrgyzstan, S & E Uzbekistan, N & E Turkmenistan and E Iran E to W & SW Tajikistan, Pakistan and NW India. Winters probably in SW Asia, locally in SE Arabia and S Israel.
  • A. g. lhamarum R. Meinertzhagen & A. C. Meinertzhagen, 1926 – SW Pamir, extreme NE Afghanistan and W Himalayas (NE Pakistan S to N Punjab, E to Nepal). Winters probably in SW Asia.
  • A. g. gulgula Franklin, 1831 – NC & NE India S to Sri Lanka and E to Indochina.
  • A. g. inopinata Bianchi, 1905 – #Rmuch of Tibetan Plateau, E Qinghai, Gansu (except most NW) and extreme SW Inner Mongolia. In winter also Nepal, Bhutan, N Bangladesh, NE India and N Myanmar.
  • A. g. vernayi Mayr, 1941 – E Himalayas and neighbouring parts of China (SE Xizang, W Yunnan).
  • A. g. weigoldi E. J. O. Hartert, 1922 – C & E China (SE Gansu and S Shaanxi S to S & E Sichuan, and E along Yangtze Valley).
  • A. g. coelivox Swinhoe, 1859 – SE & S China (including Hainan) and N Vietnam.
  • A. g. wattersi Swinhoe, 1871 – Taiwan and Philippines.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 15·5–18 cm; 24–30 g (inconspicua). Small lark with medium-long and thin bill, fairly short tail, short primary projection, small erectile crest... read more


    Song, in flight, sometimes from perch or ground, a prolonged warbling and twittering with short... read more


    Open habitats with short vegetation, e.g. grassland and cultivation, also saline coastal marshes... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet poorly studied: seeds and insects. Nestlings observed to be fed with moths and caterpillars (Lepidoptera) and with unidentified insect... read more


    Mainly Mar–Aug; chiefly Apr–Jun in most of India, but Nov–Apr/May in extreme S parts; mainly May–Aug in Himalayas... read more


    Sedentary in most of range; some local, e.g. altitudinal, movements may be undertaken. Race ... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in most of range, locally abundant; uncommon in Philippines and locally in SE Asia. Has probably decreased substantially in much of C, S, SE... read more

    Recommended citation

    Alström, P. (2019). Oriental Skylark (Alauda gulgula). 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 9 December 2019).