Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris
The horned lark is the only lark native to North America. It is 6-8 inches in length and has a wingspan of 12-13 inches. It has a tan back; a black, crescent-shaped patch on its breast; a black stripe on its face; and a black tail. It has a yellow throat and tufts of feathers on its head that look like horns. It has a long, straight claw on its hind toe called a larkspur. The larkspur is common on other species of larks. Male and female horned larks look alike, but the female is a little duller in color. The horned lark is also found in Asia and northern Europe.
The horned lark breeds across much of North America from Alaska and Canada south to most of the southern states, except for the Deep South. It winters in most of the United States, including the southern states.
The male horned lark flies above the female in circles and sings. He then dives towards the ground with his wings folded. Just before he hits the ground, he opens his wings and lands. The female lays 2-5 eggs in a nest made of woven grasses and other plants. The nest is lined with feathers and made in a depression in the ground. The female incubates the eggs for 10-14 days. The male and the female feed and care for the chicks. The chicks fledge when they are 9-12 days old, but their parents continue to feed them for a while. The female may have as many as three broods a year.
The horned lark is a ground-dwelling bird; it may perch on a fence post or tree stump, but never in a tree. On the ground, it doesn't hop - it walks or runs! It is a very vocal bird and makes a "tsee-ee" sound. It sings in the air and on the ground.
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Andrew Spencer