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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Shore Lark

Eremophila alpestris

  • Name also: Horned Lark (USA)
  • Family: Larks – Alaudidae
  • Appearance: A greyish brown lark with distinctive yellow and black facial markings. Slightly smaller than Skylark, no white markings on trailing edge of wings, white colouring on outer tail feathers.
  • Size: Length 16–19 cm, weight 33–45 g.
  • Nest: On the ground, openly or by a hummock, crowberry bush or rock. Made of moss, grass, lichen and root fibres, lined with a few feathers, willow buds and reindeer hair.
  • Breeding: 4–7 eggs laid in May–June, incubated by female for 11 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 8–10 days, and learn to fly within 16–18 days.
  • Distribution: Rare breeder in arctic uplands. Has declined recently. Finnish breeding population estimated to number fewer than 10 pairs.
  • Migration: By day. Flies south September–November, returning April–May. Winters in the Balkans, Turkey and around the Caspian Sea. May occasionally winter in Finland.
  • Diet: Seeds, invertebrates.
  • Calls: In flight a soft “yii-hi-hi”. Song modest, similar to song of Lapland Bunting and Snow Bunting.
  • Endangerment: Critically endangered, protected in Finland. European red list status (also globally) Least concern. Total European population is thought to number 2.5–6 million pairs.

Shore Larks have pale underparts and faintly streaked greyish brown upper parts. Their heads have yellow and black markings similar to the markings of Ringed Plovers. These markings are clearer on males than on females. Their flanks have reddish brown streaks. At close range two short horn-like appendages may be visible on their heads. They have black legs, grey beaks and dark brown irises. In flight they resemble Skylarks, but their wings are narrower and have no white colouring on the trailing edge. Their white-edged black tails also contrast more conspicuously with their pale underparts.

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