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

Skylark

Alauda arvensis

  • Name also: Eurasian Skylark
  • Family: Larks – Alaudidae
  • Appearance: Skylarks are brownish birds most easily recognised by their distinctive songs performed in soaring flights over farmland. They can be distinguished from other rarer larks by the pale trailing edges of their dark wings, and the white edges to their dark tails.
  • Size: Length 16–18 cm, weight 24–53 g.
  • Nest: In hollows in fields, made of grass, root fibres and hair.
  • Breeding: Lays 2–5 eggs April-May. Only females incubate, for 10–14 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 7–11 days, and are able to fly within 12–15 days. Skylarks breed from April to early August.
  • Distribution: Breeds in farmland and other open areas almost throughout Finland, though only rarely in Lapland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 300,000–400,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Migrates by day and night. Leaves Finland September–November, returning in March–May. Winters in Western and Central Europe, also occasionally in Finland.
  • Diet: Seeds, invertebrates.
  • Calls: Call in flight a sharp “krrl” like the teeth of a comb. Song performed during soaring song-flights a joyful outpouring of rolling chirps. Song-flights not performed until just after the spring thaw, when returned migrants first attract attention. According to a Finnish saying “summer begins a month after the Skylark arrives”, but in truth some skylarks may already return as early as late February among the first spring migrants.
  • Endangerment: Near treatened, protected.

Larks belong to the large Passeriformes order of songbirds. Skylarks are pale brownish farmland birds, considerably larger than sparrows, dotted with darker markings. They closely resemble pipits, but they are stouter and larger, and have thicker beaks. Skylarks have longer tails with clearer white edges than the similar Woodlark. Their wings are fairly wide and have white trailing edges visible in flight. They have crests, though these are only prominent when birds raise them. (The rare Crested Lark has a much longer and more permanently prominent crest.) Skylarks have brown legs, brown irises, and dark brown beaks (paler underneath).

Other species from the same family

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