Galerida cristata Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: Crested Lark [En], Cochevis huppé [Fr], Kuifleeuwerik [Nl], Haubenlerche [De], Cappellaccia [It], Cogujada común [Es], Κορυδαλός, Κατσουλιερης [Gr], Tepeli Toygar [Tu].
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Pamukkale, DENIZLI ● Turkey
Description: This is a smallish lark, slightly larger and plumper than the Skylark (Alauda arvensis). Both females and males have the prominent crest, which is used for signalizing – either to acquire sympathies or, on the contrary, to scare other birds. It is greyer than the Skylark, and lacks the white wing and tail edges of that species.
In flight it shows reddish underwings. The body is mainly dark-streaked grey above and whitish below. The song is melodious and varied, with mournful whistles and mimicry included.
Biology: It is non-migratory, and the sedentary nature of this species is illustrated by the fact that it is only a very rare vagrant to Great Britain, despite breeding as close as northern France.
These birds usually live either in pairs or small flocks of 3-5 individuals. If food is scarce, up to 15 Crested Larks can look for food together. Crested Lark runs along the ground with tiny steps, spending most of the day picking off bugs and seeds from the ground. In the evening, the bird finds a shallow hole in the ground to spend the night in. When sleeping, the bird ruffles its feathers to conserve heat.
Crested Lark looks for food on the ground, searching the top layer of the soil and catching bugs, crickets, larvae, spiders and ants with the strong beak. The diet is also composed of a variety of seeds, sprouts and fresh leaves. The beak is well suited for breaking the strong chitin shell that bugs are shielded by. In winter, the Lark feeds on grass seeds, because there is often no other food available.
In spring, Crested Lark males start looking for a partner – running around, singing, flapping the wings and stretching the neck are all parts of the mating ritual. After a partner has been found, the female builds a nest on the ground and lays 2-4 eggs, which are then incubated for 12-14 days. The male keeps the territory safe of predators and rivals. If another Crested Lark enters the territory, the male tries to daze them with a loud song.
Chicks leave the nest 9 days after hatching, but the parents keep feeding them for 20 more days – until they have learned to fly. With the nest on ground, the chicks are quite vulnerable to predators and natural selection begins upon hatching.
Habitat: This is a common bird of dry open country and cultivation. They prefer territories with scarce vegetation and few trees.
Distribution: The Crested Lark breeds across most of temperate Eurasia from Portugal to northeast China and eastern India, and in Africa south to Niger.
It’s Nature, let’s discover
Perrins C. & Attenborough D., 1987. Collins New Generation Guide to the BIRDS of Britain and Europe. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., Glasgow, 320 pp.
Wikipedia, Crested Lark