Photo: Hanne & Jens Eriksen/Vireo

Sky Lark

Alauda arvensis

This is one of the most famous songbirds in the world, celebrated by British poets and naturalists. English settlers in North America tried repeatedly to introduce the Skylark to this continent, but they succeeded only on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Present since the early 1900s, there are still a few Skylarks around the edges of Victoria, but they are gradually disappearing as development takes over their habitat.
Conservation status Introduced population in North America is gradually declining. On native range in Eurasia (and where introduced in New Zealand and Australia), some recent declines but still widespread and abundant. Also introduced in Hawaii.
Family Larks
Habitat Open country, fields. Introduced population on Vancouver Island lives in open areas with fairly tall grass. On native range in Eurasia, found in any kind of open country, farmland, extensive lawns, edges of marshes.
This is one of the most famous songbirds in the world, celebrated by British poets and naturalists. English settlers in North America tried repeatedly to introduce the Skylark to this continent, but they succeeded only on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Present since the early 1900s, there are still a few Skylarks around the edges of Victoria, but they are gradually disappearing as development takes over their habitat.
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Feeding Behavior

Forages by walking on ground in open areas, picking up items from ground, and pecking at plant stalks and seed heads.


Eggs

Usually 3-5. Pale gray, sometimes with greenish tinge, heavily spotted with olive or brown. Incubation is by female only, about 11 days. Young: Fed by both parents. Young often leave nest after 8-10 days, but not able to fly well until 10 days later.


Young

Fed by both parents. Young often leave nest after 8-10 days, but not able to fly well until 10 days later.

Diet

Seeds, insects. Diet in North America not known in detail. In Europe, feeds mostly on seeds of grasses and weeds, grain in agricultural fields, and leaves of various ground plants. Also eats many insects (including beetles, caterpillars, and others) and some spiders, millipedes, and snails, mostly in summer. Young birds are fed mostly insects at first.


Nesting

Male may sing at any season, but most intensively in early spring to defend nesting territory and attract a mate. In typical song-flight display, male takes off from ground and flies up in steep spiral to as high as 150-300' above the ground, singing most of the way up; then hovers and circles for several minutes, singing continuously, before gradually spiraling down to ground while continuing to sing. Nest site is on ground, in an open area among short grass. Nest (probably built by female only) is a slight depression in the ground lined with grass and rootlets, with an inner lining of finer grass and sometimes animal hair.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Migration

Introduced birds are permanent residents. Migratory birds from northeastern Asia have reached Alaska, and one has wintered in California.

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Migration

Introduced birds are permanent residents. Migratory birds from northeastern Asia have reached Alaska, and one has wintered in California.

Songs and Calls
Utters a beautiful, trilling song high in the sky that may last for several minutes. Calls trly or prrit. Also mimics other birds.