Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Sabota Lark (Calendulauda sabota)


French: Alouette sabota German: Sabotalerche Spanish: Alondra sabota

Mirafra Sabota

A. Smith

, 1836,

“between Latakoo and the Tropic” (= Rustenburg), Northwest Province, South Africa


Formerly placed in Mirafra, but genetic data situate it in present genus. Large-billed races naevia, herero and bradfieldi sometimes treated together as a separate species; limited genetic evidence supports this split, but further work needed. Geographical variation within both “small-billed group” and “large-billed group” broadly clinal, and further study may reveal that several taxa are not sustainable. Other named races include elfriedae (E end of Etosha Pan, in N Namibia), hoeschi (N Damaraland, in NC Namibia) and veseyfitzgeraldi (NW Botswana), all synonymized with waibeli; Namibian forms erongo and uis (both from NW Damaraland), considered inseparable from naevia. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. plebeja (Cabanis, 1875) – extreme NW Angola (coast of Cabinda).
  • C. s. ansorgei (W. L. Sclater, 1926) – Angolan coastal plain S from W Cuanza Sul (from Sumbe).
  • C. s. waibeli (Grote, 1922) – N Namibia and N Botswana.
  • C. s. sabotoides (Roberts, 1932) – C & S Botswana, W Zimbabwe and NW South Africa (Northwest Province).
  • C. s. sabota (A. Smith, 1836) – Sabota Lark – highveld savanna in E Botswana, Zimbabwe and E South Africa.
  • C. s. suffusca (Clancey, 1958) – SE Zimbabwe, S Mozambique, and lowveld of South Africa and Swaziland.
  • C. s. naevia (Strickland, 1853) – Bradfield's Lark – NW Namibia.
  • C. s. herero (Roberts, 1936) – C & S Namibia.
  • C. s. bradfieldi (Roberts, 1928) – semi-arid karoo regions in C South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm; 21–31 g. Medium-sized lark with prominent pale super­cilium, giving capped appearance. Nominate race has dark eyeline, thin black moustachial stripe... read more


    Male song long and rambling, usually from elevated perch or in display-flight; accomplished mimic,... read more


    Grassy karoo and variety of savanna habitats, ranging from arid fore-Namib and Kalahari thornveld... read more

    Food and feeding

    Variety of insects, including caterpillars, grasshoppers (Acrididae), beetles (Coleoptera), termites (Isoptera) and ants; also seeds of... read more


    Breeds in Oct–May, mostly Nov–Jan in E and Feb–Mar in W, associated with later onset of summer rains in W. Monogamous and... read more


    Largely resident; may make some local movements in response to rain. Some vagrancy indicated by a... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common in much of range. Densities of c. 1 individual/ha in E of range, but only 1 bird/10 ha in C Kalahari. Substantial populations... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2020). Sabota Lark (Calendulauda sabota). 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 23 February 2020).