Family Larks (Alaudidae)

Least Concern

Somali Short-toed Lark (Alaudala somalica)


French: Alouette roussâtre German: Halsfleckenlerche Spanish: Terrera somalí

Alaudula somalica


, 1895,

Haud, north Somalia


Closely related to A. rufescens, with which previously treated as conspecific, and also to A. raytal. Distinctive race athensis sometimes considered a separate species, but differs basically in its reduction of rufous tones in plumage, appearing darker and more contrasting; research needed on voice. Proposed race vulpecula (N Somalia) included in nominate. Birds recorded in C Kenya of uncertain racial identity, tentatively included in megaensis. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. perconfusa (C. M. N. White, 1960) – NE Ethiopia and NW Somalia.
  • A. s. somalica Sharpe, 1895 – Somali Short-toed Lark – E Ethiopia and N Somalia.
  • A. s. megaensis (Benson, 1946) – S Ethiopia and N & C Kenya.
  • A. s. athensis (Sharpe, 1900) – Athi Short-toed Lark – S Kenya (S from Nairobi National Park and Athi Plains) and N Tanzania.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm. Heavily streaked, medium-small lark with prominent buffy supercilium, pale lores and crescent under eye, giving “spectacled” appearance,... read more


    Song, usually in high flight, also from ground, a protracted series of trills and whistles with... read more


    Dry open grassland, at 600–1600 m in Somalia and 1200–1800 m in Kenya and N Tanzania;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet unknown. Forages on the ground, often in large flocks outside breeding season.


    Jun in Somalia and Apr–Jun in Kenya and Tanzania. Monogamous; nests singly. Male advertises and defends territory by means of aerial... read more


    Resident; locally nomadic, moving short distances to follow rain events.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to locally common; often in large flocks when not breeding, although no details on exact numbers. Range of athensis has contracted in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2020). Somali Short-toed Lark (Alaudala somalica). 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 25 February 2020).